Friday, September 28, 2012

Unity, Caring, Kindness, and Friendship: A Beautiful Thing Happened Tonight

There's a Saturday Night Life sketch from 1998 with Will Ferrell, Tim Meadows, Horatio Sanz, Ana Gasteyer, and host Cameron Diaz, called "Jingleheimer Junction."  It was a spoof on a children's type show, where normally a valuable message/moral would be presented in a fun, entertaining way.  

I give a Uckf about Caring, Kindness, Friendship, and Unity.
In this episode, Karen Kindness, Carla Caring, Umberto Unity, are joined by a new friend, Fred Friendship. Unfortunately, due to what they wear on their shirts, bearing the letter of their respective first names, they have some "technical difficulties" with the show.  Ya know... U, C, K, and F... you can see where the difficulties can come in.  It's funny, and you should watch when you have a few minutes.

It's just an SNL sketch, so there's no need to search deeper with it... yet I must.  

But, before I do, let me tell you about the incredible act of kindness I experienced tonight.  Lindsay and I went out to dinner at Paru's Indian Vegetarian Restaurant, something we love to do but do a little less frequently now - as we're doing a little more saving and a little less spending.  We sat down, figured out what we're going to eat (after discussing a more reasonably priced option than what we initially chose), and ordered.  

A few minutes after our food came, the host/manager for the night came over and asked us if we knew the woman that had been sitting in the booth next to us (she since had left).  We answered "No."  He replied "Oh," partly in surprise, letting us know that she had paid for our meal: food, tip, and all.  We were even more surprised, to say the least, thanked him for letting us know and looked at each other with deep gratitude for this tremendous, anonymous act of kindness.

How can you spread your Kindness?
Getting back to our F, U, C and, well you know: the "deep, life message" side of these comedic sketch came from the inability for Friendship, Unity, Caring, and Kindness to be able to come together and be expressed/celebrated because of something inappropriate.  I feel as though there are many obstacles in this world, in our own personal worlds, that come up and deny our ability to give and/or receive.  It's in moments like the one Lindsay and I experienced at the restaurant that I was able to clearly see and experience a true act of kindness, with no obligation, limitation, or standard.  The values of friendship, unity, caring, and kindess are ones that should be expressed as often as possible.  Once each and every one of us begin the cycle of giving, we're bound to receive - and vice versa, by accepting/receiving, we open up opportunities to give back.  This is where true abundance resides.

Lindsay and I have been very present with our giving & receiving in the past few months - obviously, we came up on the receiving side tonight (which makes us very excited about our opportunity to give back).  I encourage all of you Ahimsa Lifers to create opportunities of friendship, unity, caring, and kindness in your own lives.

  1. Open yourSelf up to receiving "Thank you"s, compliments, and gifts when they come your way.  To deny any one of them is to halt the cycle of giving & receiving... you never know what is coming your way or what chances you'll have to brighten someone else's life.  In this aspect, be a "Yes" man or woman.
  2. Find an opportunity to anonymously do good.  Whether it's giving to charity, buying a bagel for the person behind you in line, paying for someone's dinner, or leaving a card filled with love and compliments for someone to read, a chance to do good brings about more good and more chances.
  3. Make a new Friend.  Actively.  Whatever that means to you, do it.  I think being truly friendly is a quality that's been diluted among many.  When an opportunity with someone new comes up, sincerely show/provide Friendship.  Ask him/her questions about him/herSelf.  Find commonalities, discuss differences, participate in an activity that you both find fun.  Whether this person ends up being a Friend for the hour, the day, or longer, you'll both experience a positive effect/connection within.
  4. Organize a group.  Bring people together.  Poker night.  Volleyball game.  Pot luck.  Go out for drinks.  A hike.  Yoga class.  A movie.  The list goes on and on.  People are meant to be with other people.  No one can do this thing called Life alone.  Create Unity and Community.
  5. Be Kind to yourSelf.  That's where it all starts.  If you can't show immense Caring to yourSelf, it will be awfully hard to show it to and share it with others.   Go on, do something good for yourSelf.  You deserve it.  

World Kindness Day is coming up on November 13th of this year.  You can read more about it at The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Philip Wollen, the speaker, visionary, and philanthropist in the brilliant video post I shared in June, is the founder of an organization called Kindness Trust.  And if you missed out when the book 29 Gifts came out years ago, here's a chance to play catch up: 29-Day Giving Challenge. As you can see, opportunities for Kindness, Caring, Unity, and Friendship are everywhere.  Take advantage of them.  Connect with them.  The world becomes a better place when we all do.

All the best and yummiest to you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Your Day's Alphabet Starts with "U"

How many times have U gone through an entire day, only, at the end, to realize "Well, that got away from me..." ?

How many times have U reached the end of a workday, only to think "Well, work's done... but I haven't done anything for mySelf..." ?

How many times have U denied yourSelf waking up with your first alarm, hitting the snooze button once, twice, three times?

Let's face it: there's a lot to do in a day.  Or there's a lot we feel like we have to do in a day.  One thing that often gets left behind, forgotten about, unfulfilled... is ourselves!  And when it comes down to it, the most important thing - in this case, person - to take care of happens to be that very thing we neglect.

What gets U excited to wake up?  What gives U pleasure, a thrill?  How do U motivate, inspire, energize yourSelf?  What actions do U take to put U in the optimal zone for success and achievement?  Since there's only one of U - U are your only U - how do U care for your body, your mind, and your spirit?

What if these questions were the ones that started off your day and continued to guide U through, rather than popping in mid-afternoon, if U have time?  What if U started off your day taking complete care of yourSelf, doing something active and engaging, fulfilling and pleasurable, something that revved U up for great productivity and excitement and also set your level of health and happiness at a high?

If your days are often bogged down with work...
If your days leave you feeling exhausted and unsatisfied...
If U resist waking up from your slumber because U just aren't excited to go about your day...

U aren't putting U first.

I encourage U to create a simple ritual, regimen, exercise that U can do first thing in the morning when you wake.  Something that will get your juices flowing - literally, activating your physical body, which will only energize you more; something that will get U excited for any activities, actions, or work U will do toward your outcome/goals - reflecting on what's right in life, what's good, why you love life; something that's quick and easy and makes U - that same U that's most important - most important.

Some ideas for U-Time:

  • Drinking one or two glasses of water
  • Taking a cold, warm, or hot shower or bath
  • Going for a walk
  • Going for a run
  • Going for a bike ride or rollerblading
  • Writing gratitudes on a piece of paper or in a journal
  • Making a healthy breakfast and eating it sitting down at a table
  • Complimenting yourSelf in the mirror
  • Saying/doing a favorite mantra/affirmation/incantation
  • Getting fresh air/taking active deep breaths 
  • Dancing
  • Writing poetry, stream-of-consciousness thoughts; keeping a dream journal
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Simple stretching
  • Singing your favorite song or listening to your favorite music

I've found, in mySelf and others, that great productivity, focus, and overall happiness comes out of a nice and easy morning practice that puts U first.  In my "U" case, upon waking: 
  1. I splash some water on my face, go to the bathroom,
  2. Drink two glasses of water,
  3. Go for a breathwalk up my street to the top of the hill (walking while actively breathing in through my nose and out through my nose or mouth) while listening to my Calm Meditation Pandora station,
  4. Do some light stretching,
  5. Do some simple yoga (mainly inhaling my arms around and up over my head and exhaling them back down),
  6. Check in - palms together - in praying form - with my thoughts, my words, my feelings, and my actions (head, lips, heart, stomach),
  7. Walk back to my apartment with whatever inspiration incantation comes to me, allowing it to build my momentum and motivation for the day.
  8. Finally, I write down five things for which I am grateful and meditate for one minute on one of them.

My morning practice boosts my confidence, my awareness, my energy, and puts me in a place of content and action.  I can honestly say that it has increased my productivity and benefitted my life tremendously - just eight simple steps, all focusing on me - my most important Self.  

Now it's your turn to take care of your most important Self!  Please share whatever morning ritual you do, and let us know what new practices you've added or started!

P.S. Looking for someone who's an expert at YouTime?  Connect with The YouTime Coach, Jonathan Wolf!

P.P.S. Can U help me in strengthening my YouTime practice? Please check out my Reiki Certification Challenge!  Giving & Receiving creates an even greater connection with Urself.

All the best and yummiest to you!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Switching the I and the E - The Millimeter Rule

It really can be about the little things.  And, in addition to all of those big things you're juggling (or trying to juggle), those little things can make all the difference.

My beautiful wife, Lindsay, has an amazing regimen and system set up for herSelf - for inspiration, for motivation, for reminders, for scheduling, for mantras, for support, for boosting herSelf up, for connecting with herSelf and the universe.  It truly is wonderful, and it's helped her immensely with her days (and weeks, and months, and beyond), her focus, and led to much (continuing) success.

One of Lindsay's recent mantras/affirmations/visualizations involved receiving a beautiful (paying) role in a Sundance-caliber independent film.  She would connect with this outcome/goal every day, as she also took active steps toward bringing herSelf closer to it.  Linds hit a block of some sort - she could feel it, and I could tell she was experiencing it.  She still continued, though, to give it the time it needed (How many people do you know, including yourself, stop your outcome/goal pursuits once you hit a block?  Recalling New Year's Resolutions....).

One day, I was looking at her "Receive Board" and noticed her goal read "I recieve with gratitude..."  Recieve.  It said "Recieve."  And, as most of us learned as kids, "'i' before 'e' except after 'c'"  Receive was spelled incorrectly.  Nothing drastic needed to happen; there didn't have to be any overhauling or stressing; no major changes were needed.  All Lindsay needed to do, now that she realized what was slightly out of place, was switch the "i" and the "e."  She needed to turn "Recieve" into "Receive." 

Why am I telling you this story?  Well, the next day - yes, literally, the next day - Lindsay recEIved an email calling her in for an audition for a beautiful (paying) role in a Sundance-caliber film.

Tony Robbins, a MentorMagnet of mine (I'll throw up a blog post about that later on!), talks a lot about the incredible value found in millimeters - in a millimeter difference between this and that, here and there, "ie" and "ei."  His references are in the game of golf and in plastic surgery/visual beauty.  I'm not much of a golfer - I've played twice... and it was wasn't pretty - but I do know it's a game of precision.  Tony talks about the huge difference found in millimeters when it comes to your swing and contact.  When a trainer helped him change up his swing, a slight variation on grip and approach, his golf game improved tremendously.  It was the difference between hitting the ball one millimeter off its sweet spot with the right angle that would either send the ball off wide left or right into the water, top it along the ground, or cleanly sent it through the air to the fairway or green.  One millimeter.  

He also speaks of a client of his, one of the top plastic surgeons in the world, and a book this client had written studying what makes someone's face "gorgeous."  What he came to discover, through many measurement, much research and practice, was that a woman's face was considered "beautiful" or "gorgeous" if the distance between the top of her upper lip and the bottom of her nose was the size of her eye.  One millimeter more and she had an "average" face.  One more millimeter and she was "butt ugly."  Two millimeters between "gorgeous" and "butt ugly."

What's the difference between a smile and a frown?  A puffed, strongly-poised chest and slouched shoulders?  Giving up one day because "it's not working" or "it's never going to happen" and waiting those extra 24 hours to find whatever little change was needed brought your outcome/goal to you?  It's a matter of millimeters that makes a massive difference.  If you're willing to open your heart and mind to the tiniest of adjustments - letting pride, standards, rules sit this one out - then you may just bear witness to more and more of your dreams coming true and goals coming to fruition.  Keep your eyes open, stay attuned to what's happening within yourSelf and on the outside, be willing to forgive yourSelf and make a change if necessary.  Who needs big changes when all you have to do is shift everything by a millimeter.

There's a visual that many people have of what their journey to success should look like: 

Sometimes the journey is messy.  But the twists and turns in the journey are incredibly valuable - in the short- and long-term.  You start in the same place, and you finish in the same place.  It's all about the ride, so ride out your millimeters to success and be ready and conscious to switch your I's and your E's.

What millimeter shift can you make in your life?  What tiny change will bring about greater success, fulfillment, freedom, prosperity?  It's only a millimeter, so it's easy to find your way back on track if you stray too far.  Try it out and see how your life's millimeters make all the difference.

All the best and yummiest to you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Interviews with Ahimsa Lifers: Yoga w/ Ashley Platz (#2)

Finding balance, finding our center, feeling grounded is so essential to our overall well-being.  Obviously, when we feel out of whack, out of sorts, living too chaotically, our health suffers, as can many other areas of our lives: relationships, time management, work, etc.  

Positively Blissful.
My journey to veganism, spirituality, fitness, and overall holistic living was 100% positive to me, in every way.  However, I was missing one key connector of all of these areas - and that was through yoga.  My inconsistent yoga practice showed minor benefits, until I met Ashley Platz, of Positively Bliss Yoga.  

Here are tidbits from a testimonial I recently wrote for her gives you a prologue to our Ahimsa Life interviewee:  

"Ashley emanates center & balance, force & drive, peace & simplicity all at once...  Her great connection to people (within) and to the body (on the outside) allows her to skillfully, and with care, tune everyone into their own strengths and weaknesses... I feel stronger, more expansive, and more grounded... yoga with Ashley has become an integral part of my week, for the benefit of my well-being and my work."

Dare you to get into that pose.  Now how do you get out?
I'm so excited to introduce you to Ashley, so all of you Ahimsa Lifers can get to know her, all of you LA-based Ahimsa Lifers can take private or public yoga sessions with her, and everyone can find greater Ahimsa in yoga.  

(You can also find your balance in paradise with Ashley and Bikini Boot Camp in late December.  Read on to follow your Positive Bliss!)

Ten words that paint us a picture of who Ashley Platz is: Outgoing, Strong, Independent, Giggly, Witty, Aware, Openminded, Healthy, Loving, Smiley

When did yoga come into your life? What role does it play now?
Yoga came into my life 6 months after moving to Los Angeles in the end of 2007.  I was suffering with back pain from high school Track & Field injuries and Scoliosis I'd had since elementary school, and was googling Chiropractors when someone suggested Yoga.  After rejecting the idea - 3x - I noticed that I lived 3 blocks from City Yoga West Hollywood.  Weeks went by and I finally had the courage to take their super basics 101 course. The instructor noticed my spine right away and told me that she could "fix that with yoga."  I said, "That's impossible, the Dr. said only surgery can straighten my spine."  She smiled warmly and replied with; "Just keep coming."  That was 4 years ago and my spine is very near perfectly straight. That same Dr. now claims he "must have misdiagnosed" my Scoliosis. 

A Yogi and True Warrior, too.  Because that's Warrior 2 pose.
Yoga in my life in 2012, is a big part of everything I do. I am now a teacher, and still love to take classes. I have taught adults for 2 1/2 years and this year became Children's Yoga certified. Yoga is my go to for any physical problems I may get from running, hiking, or volleyball. It has also changed me as an actor (allowing me to be more present) and as a person (allowing me to be more still and patient).

How long have you been vegan?  What does eating plant-based and living compassionately mean to you?
I was Pescetarian since 2005, and I have been Vegan since October of 2011. Eating a plant based diet has made my life so much fuller as a healthy, compassionate, conscious human. I do not believe you can truly call yourself an animal lover just because you love your pet. I believe that to be an Animal Lover you must truly love all animals. That includes the pets you care for, other people's pets, bugs you save from your home, endangered species of all kinds, and the animals that you protect by not eating them. 

My Vegan journey began with my own health and politics. However, now that a plant based diet is also who I've become, I am so much more aware of life and my place on this planet. I can see how my compassionate lifestyle is not only saving the lives of animals, but I am saving my own life. My soul feels lighter. I now live Light. 

How do you actively tune into a client or class when teaching?
When teaching a private client or a public yoga class, it is my job to "hold the space." I set the tone and I keep the room full the positive energy. This also means receiving the energies that I am being given by the students, and sensing where they are on that specific day. 

Every BODY is different (and thank God!), so every day your body is going to respond differently to different poses. As a teacher, it is a huge part of my job to be present with you and to connect to where you are in that moment.

In what ways can yoga positively benefit one's life?

Yoga is valuable when you lose something in your toes.
Yoga can benefit you physically by making you stronger, more flexible.  It is very powerful in the healing process as far as suffering from any injuries (i.e. back pain, RLS, arthritis, migraines, digestion problems, post-surgeries recovery, pre-natal, post-natal, ADD, ADHD, Trouble Sleeping, etc.).

Mentally yoga gives you something I've never found in any other form of "exercise." I say that in quotes because to me Yoga is so much more than just asana (the physical poses). 

Yoga can give you patience, self-awareness, a strong sense of balance, relieves stress and anxiety, and  encourages self-love and therefore self-acceptance.

Tell us about Positively Bliss Yoga. 
Positively Bliss Yoga is dedicated to removing the pain and distractions for your physical and mental body to allow the YOU that we felt we were as a child - the creative, aware, healthy, attentive, blissful child - to emerge. It's about freeing yourself from the physical road blocks that we've attained through injury, and our lifestyle and discovering the bliss in an open, strong, aligned body. 

It is my personal goal to help each student feel that they not only broke a sweat and got the "work-out" they were seeking, but that a little bit of the mental weight of the world has been lifted.

I teach to share the positively blissful experience I had, with others. 

What are Ashley's Top Tips on:
Pushing yourself/limitations?
We love our comfort zone way too much. We all want change. Change in our body, our health, our finances, our lovers, our lives, but we don't want to leave the comfort zone. Whether it's about, trying a plant based diet for a month or finally getting that headstand in yoga, you have to be willing to be in the uncomfortable zone to achieve the change you want in your life. 

Just do it. Be aware that you're doing it and stay in it. Never be afraid to ask for help.

The best yoga form/practice for someone?
There are so many different disciplines of yoga and they are being tested and reinvented every year. Depending on what you want to achieve from your practice and where you are physically will determine which type of yoga is best for you.

Most people will choose a Hatha based class. Hatha being: basic hatha, vinyasa, flow, anusara, iyengar, bikram, hot yoga, power yoga, probably anything you take at a gym and many more.

Kundalini would be the other one, which works with more dynamic movement, a lot of specific breath control, meditation, and chanting. This type of yoga class is done for a specific purpose (e.g. for digestion, the heart chakra, immunity).

All are going to give you some benefit, but it is definitely case by case.

DIY Yoga?
Of course there are the DVDs and podcasts for do it yourself yoga. I think they are great!  However, I highly recommend either having private sessions or some public basics classes in front of a certified teacher before you begin an at-home routine. This way someone else has eyes on you and can show you where you need to focus your attention. 

"Walking Your Talk"?
In this case the old "Those who can't do, teach" saying is obsolete. I teach because I do. I learn more about my own practice when I teach. Luckily for me, begin a Vegan and a Yoga Teacher go hand in hand. Yoga teaches you to have compassion for yourself, to be self aware and self connected. Being vegan allows compassion for all living things and therefore makes me universally connected.

I never push Yoga or being vegan on anyone, but, trust me, if you have a question, I'll give you my journey and then some. And we should probably sit down.
Can you name what pose this is?

Ahimsa Quickfire:
Favorite yoga poses?
ardha chandrasana (Half Moon), virasana (Hero Pose), and bakasana (Crane Pose)

Favorite juices?
I juice all the time! Jason Vale's Turbo Juice:

Favorite mantras, affirmations, incantations?
Mantra: "Sa Ta Na Ma" (Infinity, Life, Death & Rebirth)
Affirmations: "I am enough. & I am right on time, all the time."

Favorite resources?
The Heart Of Yoga by T. K. V. Desikachar

Kelly Wood at Karuna Yoga and Hi!Yoga
Anthony & Rebecca Benenati at City Yoga

Check out, and contact for more information on how to start your yoga practice with Ashley.  Keep an eye out for Bikini Boot Camp (Dec. 18-24th, 2012) where Ashley can be your guest yoga teacher in Tulum, Mexico.  (Go ahead... treat yourself to a early holiday present...)

All the best and yummiest to you. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012