Mind, Soul

Why creativity matters and how to increase it ย 

This post is inspired by the wonderful book  “Big Magic” by Betty Dodson, who really opened my eyes about creativity. It is a life changing and witty book which I highly recommend to everyone, especially those who see themselves as not creative (as I did).
Many people think that they are not creative persons. Just because we don’t feel drawn to or posses a natural talent in the ‘real’ arts like writing or drawing, we label ourselves as uncreative. I have, of course, also thought about myself like that. For most of my life I told myself that I’m only an intellectual person. I liked history and science and somehow that meant that I could not be a creative person. Now that’s some stupid nonsense. But many of us fall into this trap.

The truth is that creativity is our human nature. Even when life was just a fight for survival, our ancestors somehow managed to find time for drawing pictures of animals into caves. 

We can’t be not creative. It’s simply not possible.

Everything we do is somehow creative. Gardening is creative. Dancing is creative. Baking is creative and so is literally everything that has some kind of ‘creation’. This creation doesn’t have to be special or even good, it can be utter crap as long as it comes from your heart.  

“Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world” ~ Brenรฉ Brown

As humans we have the innate need to share and express ourselves. That is why I believe that we don’t only like to be creative, we have to be creative if we want to stay healthy mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Creativity is a gift that comes from I-don’t-know-where and it needs to be expressed. It comes from our hearts and our longing for wonder and excitement. It makes us feel joyful and brings us to the present moment, which creates a lot of positive energy.
Feeding our souls with this kind of energy is exactly what we need to be happy. So if you really want a fulfilled life, you better let your heart run the show and start creating. 
But what should I create !?

Just create anything. It really doesn’t matter what. You don’t even need to be passionate about it. Most of us have multiple passions or none, so don’t worry too much about it. Just do what sparks your interest. That is enough. Some examples are:

  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Knitting
  • Painting
  • Story writing 
  • Blogging
  • Dancing
  • Singing
  • Making music
  • Decorating your house 
  • Collecting Post-Stamps
  • Making Videos 
  • Taking Pictures

The list goes on and on and on and on. There is something for you out there. Just try anything that you might like.

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โญ๏ธ If you still feel uncreative and or/ unsure about what you want to do here are some tips to increase your creativity and follow your heart:
First of all you need to forget all those fears that are holding you back! They are nonsense and I’ll tell you why: 

  • I’m worried im not good enough/ not satisfied with the result.

Who cares, it’s not about that! It’s simply about doing something that you love for the sake of it! It’s just a game and the purpose is enjoyment, nothing else. If you create something beautiful in the process that’s great, but if you don’t that’s also great because the benefit comes from doing something and not from the result.

  • I don’t have talents/ no inspiration.

Bullshit ! I’m sorry (no I’m not) for saying it so bluntly but it’s true. I strongly believe that everyone has something to share. Even if you like building sculptures out of old milk bottles. It’s all good, as long as it’s fun. Just do anything that you are interested in. Even if it’s only a teeny tiny bit. Just see if there’s something you like and go for it. And if that’s not the right thing, drop it and try something else. Try everything. This whole world is abundant and you can choose to do everything you want. The world really is your playground.

  • I’m afraid of what other people think of me/my work.

Two things: Everything is completely subjective. Some people praise something that other people find absolutely shitty and vice versa. So someone is always going to critizise you. Even if you don’t do anything, so you might as well just follow your heart.

And second: Nobody thinks about you anyway! It’s a harsh truth, but it’s true. People are way to busy thinking about themselves. It may sound mean but in reality it’s wonderful! It means that you are completely free to do whatever you want with out needing to worry about the opinions of other people.

Still, I understand it’s not easy to get rid of this habit. So if you need more help and want to know how to stop caring what other people think about you, read this post.

  • I’m worried that I will fail

Don’t worry. You will fail, many times. And the only which will get wounded is your ego, which is really no big deal. It just feels uncomfortable, but if you put it into perspective is not a thing to fear. You gain way more than you lose, even if you fail. At least you gain experience and knowledge but most importantly you feed your soul when you exercise your creativity. So forgive yourself and move on. The next thing is already waiting for you.

If you have the courage to face your fears and start the creative process congratulations! It’s going to be a lot of fun. 

โญ๏ธ Here are some more tips to help you along the way: 

  • Discipline matters

To get good at something it is important to practice it and devote time to it. If you love a craft, show your craft that you love it by doing just that. Again and again. And it will love you back.

  •  Forget about perfection

You can’t attain it anyway. Perfection is impossible, because everything is subjective and perfectionistic standards are unattainable. The only thing that perfectionism will do is leave you feel insecure and unworthy which is dangerous for your creativity. So drop it and express everything you want with out feeling the need to make it perfect. 

  • Try out different ways of creativity

Even if your the worst at it, just do something else than you would normally do. Simply because it’s fun. It can be anything, from gardening to inventing stories, to singing a song, anything that sparks your interest. It will definitely increase your creativity and you will have fun in the process. 

  • Take care of yourself

You’re way more likely to be inspired and creative if you feel confident and beautiful. So practice self love and put on that dress which makes you feel invinsible. It will make all the difference, trust me. If you want more tips on how to love yourself and care for yourself more, head over to this post.

And always remember: The outcome does not matter. It never did. The only important thing is that you enjoy the process. Period.  
Like Betty Dodson, the author of “Eat Pray Love” puts it: “What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant? What do you love even more than you love your own ego?”.
Go ahead and do that. And your life will be a zillion times more magical, fun and fulfilling.

Creativity is sacred and it is not sacred.

What we make matters enormously and it doesn’t matter at all.

We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits.

We are terrified and we are brave.

Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.

Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.

Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise-you can make anything.

So please calm down now and get back to work, okay?

The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.” ~Betty Dodson

What is your favorite way to express creativity?

Namaste ๐Ÿ’œ

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yoga

Why you should start a yoga self practice and how to do it

Against the common belief, we don’t have to take yoga classes to practice yoga. While it’s  helpful to take classes guided by a teacher in the beginning, it is actually far more effective to also practice on your own. 

When you have already learned some yoga poses and techniques, you can easily practice them at home too (Just be careful to not hurt yourself in the process okay?). I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to yoga classes at all anymore, no, Yoga classes are a wonderful way to learn and to connect and definitely worth visiting, but in my opinion self practice just gets yoga to a completely different level.
There are many advantages to self practice and these are the most important ones:

  • You can do it everywhere

As you don’t need a teacher for your self practice you can easily do it at home, outside in the garden or in your office chair. You don’t even need a lot of space. Just the space of your mat is enough (even though you have to be aware of the surrounding objects so that you don’t hurt yourself, of course). Alternatively, you can also be creative and do little flows on your bed or using the wall as a prop. Try out different things and you’ll have a lot of fun. 

  • It’s good for the busy ones amongst us 

As you don’t need to drive to a studio or visit a teacher, you safe a lot of time. In addition to that you can vary the length of your practice to just what you feel like or have the time for. Some days I will do practice for hours, staying in stretches for what feels like a thousand breaths, other times I just do some 10 minutes of sun salutations and stretches. It all depends on how I feel.

  • Your practice is directly suited for you

In a class you have to go along with the instructions of a teacher, in your practice you just listen to yourself. That means you can work on exactly those areas that you would like to work on, stay in the asanas as long as you like and go with your own pace. All of this is immensely beneficial for your wellbeing and can be a lot of fun because you can do whatever you like. Furthermore you really learn to listen to your body and to respect how you feel.

  • It saves money

Let’s admit it yoga can be expensive. While it’s recommended to start out with a teacher so that you protect yourself from injuries, it’s definitely less expensive to just do it on your own.

  • It’s just fun!

As I already said, you can do whatever you want. Want to make it more of a dance-party-style flow with your favorite music on? Do it! Want to stay in that hip-opener for an hour? Okay! (Just be careful please.) You can really do everything because your self practice belongs to you and only you.

In the begging it may feel awkward to stand on your mat completely without the guidance of your teacher, so here are some tips to help you through that first confusion:

     1. Start with warming up your joints

Do some joint movements, roll out your neck, do some cat and cow movements, just free up every joint that you are going to use during the practice.
    2. Warm-up your body with a flow

Do some sun salutations or similar flows to get your body moving and increase the heart rate. It is really important to be properly warmed up before attempting more difficult poses as you risk injury if you just hop into them. 
    3. Include stretching as well as.       strengthening poses

Yoga is all about creating balance so you have to work your body in all areas. Naturally we tend to do more of what’s easier for us but to really get all the benefit it is important challenge ourselves and balance our body. That’s of course easier said than done and I also fall into that trap a lot (That’s why after 3 years of Yoga I can easily drop into a split without being warmed up but still can’t do a proper chaduranga. It’s just human.).

 

   4.Be creative

You don’t have to go along the beaten path. You can just make up your own rhythm and style. It is up to you. I for example love to do really fluid, kind of dance inspired flows that just feel good.


    5. Challenge yourself (but be careful)

In self practice it’s all about evolving your Yoga practice. So of course we need to challenge ourselves. Maybe you should set yourself a goal for that special pose you want to learn? Or maybe you want to try a completely ne one? You can do it! Just make sure that you don’t overdue it, too much ambition can easily result in injury. 
  

  6. Always end with shavasana

Always, always,always finish off your practice with shavasana. Even though just like on the floor may seem unproductive, it’s really the most important asana. In this pose you calm your body down and give it a chance to really absorb the benefit of all the wonderful things you just did. So relax and take this time to be grateful for having shown up for your practice today 


Bonus feature: Include some breathing exercises and meditation at the beggining or end of your practice.
Even if you don’t meditate, just try it out. It will enhance the benefit of your practice, will leave you calmer and more centered.

โ—๏ธAnd most importantly: Stay aware during your practice and focus on your breath to move according to it.            

This is the most essential part of your yoga practice. Awareness of the breath will make  you feel relaxed, refreshed and with more mental clarity. In this way you get the most out of your practice and earn all the wonderful benefits yoga offers.

If you stay consistent with your practice I promise you will see great changes in your body and mind. It’s an easy, fun and cheap way to grow and evolve your practice. So why don’t you just try it out now?

Namaste ๐Ÿ’œ

Mind

How to stop caring about what other people think about you

We’ve all been there. Someone says something negative about us and immediately anxiety grabs us. We start scolding ourselves: “Why am I like this?! I can’t do anything right!”. We feel unworthy and useless. It is a horrible feeling and has many negative effects on our psyche. Indeed, taking too much interest in the opinions of others can be detrimental for our mental health, causes stress and anxiety, destroys our connection with ourselves because we forget how to decide based upon our intuition and generally just makes life less fun than it’s supposed to be.

However, caring about what other people think about you doesn’t necessarily have to be negative. As social animals we rely on the function of our communities and therefore it’s important to have some set of rules and norms for our behavior. Only with this unspoken social codex can we build stable relationships and groups, as families or companies. 
Moreover, the opinions of others can sometimes provide vital information about unhealed parts of ourselves and help us to advance on our journey. For example if someone points out to you that you’ve been mean to your coworker when he asked that dumb question for the third time in an hour, you might find out that you need to work on your patience and compassion.

Caring about the opinions of others only starts to be a problem if you dwell over the opinions too much. When you start relying on others to assure your sense of self instead of just using their opinions for improvement and then letting them go, you get yourself in trouble. That’s where the suffering starts. 
If we are insecure and without inner connection we start to search for security on the outside. We think that we need to please others and be prefect in order to be accepted and loved, so we stop acting from our inner source and start to try everything to somehow fit into our chosen picture of a perfect human
Just to get this clear, that ideal doesn’t necessarily have to be liked by everyone. We often mistake our strive for recognition as originality and our own personality, while in reality we are only trying living up to a standard that we think will make us accepted and worthy of love. So for example a young girl could try to live up to the ideal of the ‘coolest and most carefree party-girl’, a picture that most definitely doesn’t please the girl’s parents but to her seems like an original way to be as it is admired by her teenage peers. 

We are constantly trying to live up to a standard that we think will make us accepted and worthy of love.

In this desperate attempt to find belonging and self worth, we struggle to make people like us and think of us in a certain way. As we build our whole sense of self upon how other people see us, we are extremely attached to their options and devastated if someone doesn’t like us or sees us the way we want them to. Because we fear losing this secure sense of self we spent our whole life people-pleasing and trying to live up to an unachievable standard of perfection. 
As a result we completely lose the connection to our inner wisdom and knowing, because we only look for outer guidance. But only if we live from our inner source we truly can be happy. Only if we do what brings us joy and happiness will we be content and at peace. This is such a simple truth, yet most people forget about it. 
Always remember: We don’t have to gain the right to be loved. We have the right to be loved and we are loved because we exist. No exceptions.

It is easier to understand this intellectually than to really feel it. We all know how hard it is to get out of the mindset of lack and fear.

But hard doesn’t mean impossible and there are many practices that you can do to help you be the best and most authentic (which means free,happy and confident!) version of yourself. I say practices because they need to be done not only once but on a daily basis and with awareness. Only then can you rewire your mind for a more fulfilled life. This takes time and energy but trust me, it’s worth it.
Your life is way too short to be lived in fear of other people’s opinions. And the world longs for you to share your unique gifts and quirks with the world without holding back. 

So let’s see what you can do to stop caring about what other people think of you:

  •  Remember that people are always going to critize you, no matter what

This may not be what you wanted to hear, but it’s true and can set you free if you really understand it. Everything in this life is completely subjective. Literally everything. One person may like what you’re doing while another person absolutely hates it. You can NEVER please everyone. It’s just not possible. 

So next time when you notice that you’re afraid of criticism remember that there will definitely be criticism. Even if you don’t do anything at all, someone will still criticize you. There’s no way around it, so you might just do whatever you want. And that is incredibly liberating.

  • Remember that nobody thinks about you anyway

Sounds really harsh, but is actually quite liberating too. We spend so much time worrying about what other people may think about us while other people just think about themselves (or what other people may think about them). People are so busy that they most probably don’t even spend a second thinking about you and if they do, it will just be a quick thought which they forget in a blink of an eye. This may make you feel lonely at first, but think about it, if no one thinks about what you’re doing, you can just do anything! You can follow your heart and be wonderfully crazy just as you like without feeling like you’re in the center of attention and have to deliver a perfect show. You’re simply free to be yourself!

  • Grow your self love 

Self love is one of the most important parts of overcoming the fear of the opinions of others. As most of this attachment to external feedback comes from insecurity, it is extremely important to build confidence and a strong sense of self. This can be done by working on loving yourself. Building self love is a quest on its own and superduperhyper important for everything in life. You can grow your love to yourself actively by various techniques such as positive affirmations (google it), doing what you love, caring for yourself, thinking positively, resting when you need it, listening to your intuition and so much more. If you need more help on how to love yourself more, just search the internet, especially YouTube, there are so many helpful informations. For example you can check out this Video by the lovely InfiniteWaters.

  •  Celebrate yourself

You want acceptance and recognition? Well, then give it to yourself! Seriously, you’re the only person who truly needs to approve of what you’re doing. So celebrate every little success. Congratulate yourself for getting out of bed today. Give yourself a pat on the back for finishing that assignment or working out. Celebrate your kindness and good looks. Just be proud about everything that you are. You are perfect and exactly the way you should be.

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously, it’s all just a a game

Yes of course, you are a miracle and your life matters. But still, in the end you’re going to leave this place and literally none of those external values will matter anymore. In the long run, all your perceived failures or success will be forgotten. The only thing that will really matter is if you enjoyed the time you spent here on earth. So of course you should still be ambitious and try to improve yourself and your life, but take it lightly and with a sense of play, for it is just a game and you won’t get out of here alive anyway.

  • Ditch perfectionism

Sorry to inform you, but you can never reach objective perfection because that doesn’t exist. And you don’t even have to. The authentic you with your edges and quirks is far more valuable to this world than any perfect person could ever be. We need your original gifts and talents and not your stress. And stress is the only thing you get when you try to reach perfection. Perfectionism takes the fun out of everything because it makes you feel unworthy all the time. Moreover it may stop you from even trying because you’re afraid that you can’t live up to your expectations. 

So always remember: If you do something, do your best but forget about perfection because that’s bullshit. And never forget to have fun!

  •  Release negative mind patterns

Lastly, it is really important to release the negative mind patterns surrounding this issue. After all, you think the way you think due to your minds conditioning. So in order to really tackle the problem you need to rewire your mind. That can be done by the practices described in this post and by reprogramming your mind with positive affirmations. If you want to learn more about positive affirmations and their utility, check out this post.

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This life is yours and you’re the most important person in it. Don’t let this gift slip out of your hands. Enjoy it fully. Don’t let others dictate what you should do, follow your heart and I promise you will be much more joyful.

Namaste ๐Ÿ’œ

Body, Soul

How to find out which style of Yoga fits to you

Right now there are a  zillion different styles of Yoga, most of them with funny names and undefinable meanings. Because of the sheer number of them it’s easy to get confused about which style would fit to you.

If  you want to find out your perfect style you have to find out what exactly it is you want to gain from your Yoga practice first.Try getting clear about the following questions before you read the guide:

Do you want an intense workout or do you just want to relax?

Do you want to calm your mind and relief stress or is it more important for you to build strength and flexibility?
While most Yoga practices give you all of these benefits, some target the strength and flexibility aspect more, while others focus more on relaxtion, so it is important to know what you’re up to.

If you are clear about what you want and want to find out which Yoga style is best for you, read this explanatory guide on the most popular styles of Yoga. 

  • Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is “the original Yoga” and very ancient. It describes all the asanas (poses) out which the new styles teached in the west are made of. Although in this way most Yoga styles are Hatha Yoga styles, there are also specific Hatha Yoga classes.
In Hatha Yoga we perform different asanas, suited to the student. The poses are hold for some time while focusing on the breath, before we release and adopt another posture. Because there is no specific sequence to be followed, Hatha Yoga classes are never the same and can target completely different objectives. 

๐Ÿ‘ The main focus of Hatha is always to strengthen and stretch the body in order to achieve the best state of health possible while balancing mind and body. Therefore, Hatha Yoga is beneficial for everyone.  

You simply have to try out different classes because depending on the teacher, it can be too easy for some and too strenuous for others. That’s why I recommend trying out different teachers before you commit to one class.

  • Ashtanga

Ashtanga Yoga is a style that was popularized by Pattahbi Jois (search for his teachings on YouTube, they are amazing) in the 70s, but relies on an ancient system. It contains 7 complete Yoga sequences in which the asanas (poses) are linked by vinyasas, meaning that you flow from one pose into the other, which makes it more intense. Ashtanga Yoga is a difficult practice, containing many difficult asanas, but it is really nice to see how you evolve trough this practice because the sequence stays the same and you follow it strictly. This means that you practice the same flow every time which leads to fast progress. 

๐Ÿ‘ Ashtanga Yoga is perfect for you if you want an intense workout and like strict guidance. It’s good for the ambitious Yogis, who like to make progress and be able to see where they are on their Yoga journey. Because it’s so repetitious, it can also relief stress and calm your busy mind.

๐Ÿ‘Ž I would not recommend Ashtanga to those who just want to relax, as it is very physically demanding.

  • Power Yoga

Just as Hot Yoga is the “westernized” form of Bikram Yoga, Power Yoga is actually a less strict form of Ashtanga Yoga. Benefits and contraindications are the same, but the sequence and asanas are different and it is not that strict.

  • Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga was developed by Bikram Choudhry about 30 Years ago and is one of the most popular Yoga styles right now. During Bigram Yoga, 2 Pranayama (breathing exercises) and 26 asanas are performed in a specific order. All of this happens in a room heated to 40 degree Celsius, which will have all parts of your body dripping with sweat. Literally, all parts. (Did you now that the inside of your ears could sweat?!)

These are the different Bikram Yoga poses :

๐Ÿ‘ Due to the heat Bikram Yoga increases your flexibility immensely and prevents stretch-related injuries. It is also very good for detoxing and losing weight, as you sweat everything out. Heat is also proven to have a calming and stress relieving effect, which makes Bikram Yoga a good choice if you want to rebalance yourself.

๐Ÿ‘Ž It is not recommended to try Bikram if you have any illness that will make you faint due to heat, or if you are just in general too sensitive to sustain physical movement in a hot environment.

  • Hot Yoga

Hot Yoga is actually very similar to Bikram Yoga, they just don’t stick to the sequence developed by Bikram himself, so they had to invent a new name but the benefits stay the same.

  • Vinyasa 

Vinyasa Yoga  or Vinyasa Flow Yoga is all about movement. In Vinyasa, you link all postures fluidly together with the breath so that you achieve a flow during the whole practice. 

๐Ÿ‘ The flowing movement is amazing to restore balance between mind and body and really get you into a meditative space. Thereby, it is a great practice to relief stress and relax.

Furthermore, the constant movement makes Vinyasa Yoga a good workout which strengthens every part of the body, a good cardio workout and provides a good stretch.

Because Vinyasa Yoga can be practiced in so many ways it is suitable to everyone.

  • Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga is also called restorative Yoga. In Yin we hold the different poses for a long time, mostly between 2-5 minutes. In this time we focus on “breathing into the stretch and letting go.
๐Ÿ‘ Because we hold the asanas for so long, Yin Yoga is an amazing practice to build flexibility. Furthermore, it is extremely calming and helps with all kinds of stress related problems. In addition to that the deep stretch can help to release stuck emotions, as they are stored in tight parts of the body, as for example in the hips. Therefore, it’s the best practice to go for if you want deep relaxation.

๐Ÿ‘Ž As you see Yin Yoga is very calm and thus not suitable for those who want an intense workout.

There are far more styles than those that I have listed here, but they all provide wonderful benefits for your whole being. I invite you to try out different classes and see which style you like most. You don’t even have to stick to one style, you can switch and change your practice as you like. In the end the most important thing is that you enjoy it and have fun! So start practicing and see what wonders Yoga can do for you!

What is you favorite style of Yoga? Do you like to visit classes or do you prefer to practice on your own? Let me know!
Namaste ๐Ÿ’œ

Mind, Soul

How to release negative emotions

A few days ago I had an emotional breakdown. The nagging feeling inside just got stronger and stronger and my usual defense mechanisms stopped working. So I decided to get my sh*t together and work through it. Easier said than done. I told myself ” just get over it already and think positive “. But of course that didn’t work. I feel that in the spiritual world we often get too hard on ourselves when it comes to experiencing negative emotions and fear. We feel like we’re not really spiritual enough when negativity succeeds in getting us down. 

But in my opinion, personal growth can only happen when we are gentle and honest with ourselves. Falling down is human. Losing control sometimes is okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself. In fact, truly experiencing negative emotions can be very beneficial for you spiritual growth/mental health, because it makes you stronger and helps releasing old blockages. 

So here is the way I found most useful when it comes to dealing with negative emotions:

Feeling your way through the discomfort 
In order to release emotions, they need to be felt. Completely, without thinking or judging. To suppress or act them out will only make them stronger and they will come back again stronger. 

How to truly feel an emotion:
It is actually easier than it sounds. Let go of the story and the thoughts that you tell yourself by not labeling the emotion. Just concentrate on the bodily sensation. No words are needed. Scan your body and feel where the emotion causes you to tense or tighten your muscles. Does your chest feel heavy? Do your face muscles tense? For me personally, I feel fear mostly as a heavy sensation in my chest and a tingling in my arms. Just breath into the sensations and try to stay aware, not running away with your mind. Stay there till you feel how your body releases and the negative emotion loses its power. This can take time, so be gentle with yourself. If you feel overwhelmed by the practice release it and try again. 

Don’t judge yourself if you don’t succeed in releasing the emotion. Even if you were just able to feel your darkness for a second, you will already get great benefits. It’s a learning process.

Don’t expect immediate relief, just stay present and curious about what comes up and see how the feelings change. Over time this practice will become easier and feel lighter, as you learn to stay present with your discomfort, without trying to get your “quick fix” (food,sex,television…). These defense mechanisms may give you short term relief but will only sow the seed for even worse feelings. So try to stick with it and find the courage to show up for yourself, even when it gets really uncomfortable. You can do it!

It may seem hard at first but I found that it is the only effective way to create lasting change and truly release emotions. And never forget you are not alone. Everyone experiences negative emotions and fear. So let’s get out of that together.

If you tried this method, does it work for you? Or do you have a different approach that works better for you?

Namaste ๐Ÿ’œ