#beauty

A Simple (And Fun!) Exercise To Discover Your Life Purpose

Do you ever wonder if you’re on the right track? Do you sometimes struggle to find meaning and purpose in your life? Have you ever thought, “Is this as good as it gets?”

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are not alone.

I recently lost two dear friends to suicide, and their tragic and untimely deaths shook me to my core. I not only had to deal with the pain of losing them, but I was also forced to take a deeper look at how I was choosing to live my life.

Like my friends who decided to end their lives, I, too, was placing so much importance on what other people thought, and getting most of my worth from the external world—my career, financial success, material possessions, appearance, validation from social media, you name it. I didn’t really know who I was on the inside. My identity was wrapped up in my job title, relationship status and what I looked like.

We all know if we want strong physical muscles, we need to move our bodies so we don’t get flabby. But what about our emotional muscles? How do we combat emotional flabbiness and stay spiritually fit and strong?

The answer for me was found by going within. By getting still, quiet, removing distractions, and becoming practiced at listening to my inner guide, higher Self, infinite intelligence, God, spirit, universe, whatever you want to call it, we all have a brilliant wisdom deep within us that has all the answers. We just have to learn how to hear it.

One of my favorite ways to do this is by going on a walking meditation. I live on the Hudson River, right across from Manhattan, and there is a beautiful track right there where I go for guidance. I don’t meet with a sage, teacher or coach, instead I take myself on a walk.

It doesn’t matter where you take your walk, but it’s inspiring to be surrounded by beauty and nature. You can listen to music, but I prefer to be earphone-free, and listen only to my inner guide and higher power.

While moving your body at a comfortable, not strenuous, pace, ask yourself this question: “If you take away money, what people think, other people being impressed by or validating you for doing something, geography and all other external circumstances, what do you really want to do?”

Let your heart, not your mind, answer. You should hear a response almost immediately. Don’t edit, judge or try to resist what comes up.

I asked myself this question recently at the track, and my answer blew me away. It was everything I tell myself and others I don’t want. For example, I pride myself on being a fiercely independent career woman with my own money, and (up until very recently) a huge part of my identity was being a single woman who is open to a life partner but doesn’t want to get married or have children. So when I asked myself this question, and my heart/inner wisdom answered immediately, “I want to be a wife and mother,” I began to weep.

This walking meditation exercise has opened me up to myself in such a profound way, and I know it can do the same for you. It proves that we often do things in life in the name of what we think we want, should do, what society deems as important and worthy, what others will think or are impressed by and so on.

I love this exercise because it’s fun, easy, free, can be done at any time, and once we get clear on our heart’s true desires, we can go back and meditate, asking for what inspired action steps to take. When we get quiet, go within, clear ourselves from distractions and ask for divine guidance, it is always available to us. Our inner GPS is like a computer file that cannot be deleted. We just have to choose to download it, and keep downloading it.

7 Tips For Loving & Honoring Your Body (Yes, Even The “Flaws”)

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It’s become part of what it means to be human: point out something about yourself you don’t like, a perceived flaw that needs to be fixed.

We haven’t learned this behavior all on our own: we’re constantly being bombarded with images of “perfect” (airbrushed, sometimes completely reconstructed) bodies. We’re constantly being fed a message of needing to slim down and tone up. Want the job? Lose weight! Want your dream partner? Lose weight! Want to be happy, rich, successful, attractive? Lose weight!

It’s easy to see why we’re so hard on ourselves, finding it impossible to reach a beauty standard that’s absurd and unattainable.

At a healthy size 12, I work as a plus-size model. I find the label degrading, but at the same time, I’m happy there’s a place in the industry for my body type: I love representing curvy women and showing more diversity in fashion.

I’ve certainly been guilty of comparing myself to others, and definitely had some emotional moments being the “big girl” on set when shooting with size two models. But these insecurities ultimately let me heal and release, and that’s been the greatest blessing of all.

Here are some of the steps I’ve taken and committed to that have enabled me to love and honor my body:

1. Practice the art of acceptance, even when it seems impossible.

Loving your body starts with acceptance. You have to know who you are and what you’re working with.

I’m built exactly like my dad: tall, strong and athletic. I’m not, have never been and will never be super skinny. It isn’t my body type or bone structure. But I eat clean, work out and stay active. I’m not the skinniest girl in the room, but I’m definitely one of the strongest!

Focus on your best assets. My thighs may be “big,” but they’re are what help me be a great athlete, and I find beauty in strength and fitness.

2. Learn to forgive wholeheartedly.

Through guided meditations, energy work like Reiki, journaling, walks in nature, reading and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle, I’ve learned to forgive myself for negative self-talk and others for the unkind things they say about my body or body type. Forgiveness is a choice I choose to make on a regular basis.

Recognize unkind words as just thoughts, perceived fear not based in reality. Forgiveness releases you and others, allowing you to live your life from a place of love. Anything you’ve done to your body that didn’t come from a loving place can be forgiven and healed.

3. Be willing to see your body in a new light.

Be willing to let go of old thought patterns that don’t promote a positive body image. Be willing to see love instead of fear. Be willing to eat healthy, exercise and take care of your body. Be willing to try new things.

For me, it was reiki, fascial stretch therapy and meditation. These practices put me more in touch with my energy, body and ability to heal. As the old saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Or as I like to say, If I can do it, so can you!

4. Gain a sense of perspective.

A shift in perspective can literally shift your life. By choosing to see your body as beautiful and appreciate it for all it’s done for you, you can honor your body instead of complaining about what’s wrong with it. Our egos love for us to believe bad things about ourselves, so don’t take the bait. Choose to see your body as the temple it is instead.

5. Don’t compare.

This is a big one, and something our society loves to do. Comparing keeps us small. It lowers our energy. Quite simply, it feels like crap.

I meet many naturally thin women who tell me they wish they had my curves despite sometimes wishing I had a slimmer stomach. It’s imperative that we stay in our own lane. The wasted time and energy you spend comparing yourself to others could be spent nurturing your own body.

6. Take a bath.

It might sound silly, I know, but I take a bubble bath almost everyday. Besides getting clean, I find it extremely relaxing and it helps me connect to my body. It’s my time to take care of and nurture myself. It’s not just a skin-softening ritual, but also a body love ritual.

Warm water, healing epsom salts and essential oils give me such a sense of calm and draw attention to my sense of self. We’re all so busy working and taking care of others that we often neglect ourselves. A bath slows you down and allows you to love yourself in a pure, simple way.

7. Say thank you.

Forget the grueling hour-long sessions with your trainer, marathon races or even child birth for a second. Yes, your body does all of that for you, but it also got you up out of bed this morning, showered, fed and out the door. Our bodies are constantly working for us, doing almost everything we ask of them and yet we’re so hard on them.

Starting today, try saying thank you to your body for all it’s done for you. We all want to be appreciated and our bodies are no exception. Gratitude goes a long way, even with ourselves.

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