Monday, January 18, 2016

5 Amazing Benefits of Meditation

Have you tried meditation? I’ve practiced meditation on and off for the past 10 years— and by that I mean I’d meditate for 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there, randomly after a yoga class, spontaneously during a stressful time...but never on a consistent basis. Moving into a new year, I’m attempting to make it a part of my permanent routine. And after a solid week of meditating each morning, I’m already feeling the benefits and am excited to keep it going.

Meditation increases happiness, improves your ability to communicate and focus, boosts creativity and reduces anxiety and stress. We take care of our bodies, we should take care of our minds and well-being too, right? The hardest part, at least for me, was finding the time. I committed to waking up a little earlier everyday (30 minutes) to be able to meditate for 10 minutes each morning and get in a couple of stretches before starting the day. And let me just say, it’s been very rewarding.

This incredibly helpful and well-designed (and free) app, Headspace, has been imperative to my foray into meditation. I highly recommend it. It guides you through a daily, 10 minute meditation. Check out the benefits, download the app and give it a shot— you’ve got nothing to loose and so much to gain!

1) Meditation Reduces Anxiety, Worry, and Stress

"In 2011, Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain: Eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress – and these changes matched the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well." - (Forbes)

2) Meditation Increases Happiness

Studies show that meditation increases brain signaling in the left side of the prefrontal cortex, responsible for positive emotions, while decreasing activity in the right side, responsible for negative emotions. It also decreases the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts. Mind-wandering (worrying, over-thinking, thinking about things that have already happened, etc.) is associated with being less happy.
(Sources: Forbes, Huffington Post)

3) Meditation Boosts Creativity 

"Research has found meditation to promote ‘divergent thinking’ a type of thinking that allows many new ideas to be generated." -(Headspace)

4) Meditation Reduces Blood Pressure, Heart Attack and Stroke

"More people die of heart diseases in the world than any other illness.
In a study published in late 2012, a group of over 200 high-risk individuals was asked to either take a health education class promoting better diet and exercise or take a class on Transcendental Meditation. During the next 5 years researchers accompanying the participants found that those who took the meditation class had a 48% reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
They noted that meditation “significantly reduced risk for mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in coronary heart disease patients. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors.”
-(Live and Dare)

5) Meditation Promotes Self-Acceptance and Reduces Social Anxiety

"Research has also shown that mindfulness meditation, in contrast to attending to the breath only, can reduce anxiety – and that these changes seem to be mediated through the brain regions associated with those self-referential (“me-centered”) thoughts. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to help people with social anxiety disorder: a Stanford University team found that MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction, a sub-genre of meditation) brought about changes in brain regions involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety." The other benefits of meditation, including increased self-awareness and acceptance, also contribute to improved overall well-being.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How To Wear Sweats To Work

Ladies, if you are like me, you'll agree that there are days when you want nothing more than to go to work in your sweats and a t-shirt. Those tight pants, restricting structured shirts and painful high heels can be so suffocating! 

The good news is-- there are work arounds. Allow me to introduce you to my five faves.

1. The Track Pant / Jogger Pant
These are basically dressy sweatpants. Made of silk, polyester, leather and other kinds of soft flexible fabrics, track/jogger pants are loose, light, comfortable and most pants of this variety come with an elastic waistband.

Rose Garden Joggers from Anthropologie

2. Loose Fitting Blouses, Tunics and T-Shirts
As with the track pants, looser fitting tops are on trend right now which makes this move a no brainer. A loose blouse in a light, breathable fabric is ideal. It's as comfortable as wearing a t-shirt.

Oversized Blouse from Zara

AG Adriano Goldshmied Rowan Silk Pleat-Front Top

3. Leggings
Leggings, like yoga pants are a girl's best friend. 
They're forgiving, flexible, they always make you look and feel good 
and you can take them anywhere. 

Silence + Noise Ankle Zip Leggings from Urban Outfitters 

BGD Cuffed Faux Leather Leggings from Urban Outfitters

4. Maxi and Shift Dresses
Maxi, Shift, Tunic and every other type of loose fitting dress are probably the most comfortable items of clothing to wear. With their simple lines, these dresses are not restricting yet look so classy and elegant.

Giroflee Maxi Dress from Anthropologie

This beautiful dress by Whit, found on Atlantic-Pacific

5. Flats, Wedges or Chunky Heels
Any of the above are a million more times mobile than high heels, not too mention more comfortable. 

Kiera Michael Kors Ballet Flats
Can You Hear Me by Seychelles

Bevrlie by Steve Madden

Give these five styles a try if you haven't already! 
Do you have any other comfy work clothes hacks?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Capri, Italy

Capri was the third city we visited on our Honeymoon through Italy and France. If you missed them, check out my posts on Rome and Sorrento. We savored the relaxing, laid back atmosphere of this beautiful island, it was much needed and appreciated after the first busy five days of our trip. 

How to get to Capri from Sorrento
From Sorrento, we took a hydrafoil over to Capri. It was such a quick and easy commute. The ferry leaves from Marina Piccola, located about 10 minutes by cab from the heart of Sorrento. At Marina Piccola, you can purchase a hydrafoil or ferry ticket for about 18 euro per person. A quick 30 minute boat ride and we were on the magical little island of Capri.

Where to Stay on Capri
While on Capri we stayed at Casa Morgano. I highly recommend this hotel. The property is immaculate and located off the main road. The service was top-notch, they took care of all of our needs and made our stay at their property truly enjoyable and effortless. Our room was spacious and they kindly upgraded us to a room with a patio overlooking the sea. I just loved how Casa Morgano is nestled into the mountainside among the trees, there was always a slight breeze and the sound of birds chirping and calling as they soared overhead. What I loved the most about Capri was sitting on that patio enjoying the fresh sea breeze and listening to the birds and the wind through the trees.

We spent a lot of time on Capri relaxing. We walked around the town, sat in the little town square, the Piazetta (a great place for people watching) and ate at as many restaurants as we could.

Where to Eat
There were three restaurants in particular that left an impression; Il Geranio, Villa Verde and Michel'angelo.

  • Il Geranio is a quaint little French restaurant overlooking the Faraglioni. The food here was absolutely delicious being one of the best in terms of quality that I experienced in Italy. 
  • Villa Verde came recommended from the staff at Casa Morgano. We were very impressed by the food (local Italian cuisine), service and atmosphere here; I wish we had discovered it earlier in our stay because this is a place I would have dined at more than once. 
  • Michel'angelo...I can't say the food was the best here, though it was a lot better than a lot of the little touristy restaurants located in the Piazetta. And while everything is overpriced on Capri, this restaurant was one of the less expensive ones. What made this restaurant stand out was the service. Our waiter was very friendly and attentive making our experience at Michel'angelo very memorable. 

  // The Faraglioni //

// All pics by Nic (except for a few) //

Ciao, Capri! We'll be back soon!

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's Yours

This song by Jon Cutler with it's poetic lyrics and jazzy house beat never fails to lift the Spirit.
Enjoy! xo

Well, It's yours

What makes you journey into the night
And take flight on a pursuit of musical bliss?
Chasing beats through ghetto streets
To a dungeonous temple left by our soul descendants
In a quest for peace, energy and light.
If you were to find this temple, 
Do you have the knowledge to enter the temple?
Do you want it?
And if you had it, would you flaunt it?
Well It's yours!"

There is approaching light
A-flowing, soaring through your world
The fire burns within your heart
And now it's yours
If you feel it in yourself
I know the light goes through the stars

Acquiring entrance to the temple is hard but fair.
Trust in God-forsaken elements
Because the reward is well worth the journey.
Stay steadfast in your pursuit of the light.
The light is knowledge.
Do you want it?
And if you had it, would you flaunt it?
It's yours!"

There is approaching light
A-flowing, soaring through your world
The fire burns within your heart
And now it's yours
If you feel it in yourself
I know the light goes through the stars

Well, It's yours

Well, It's yours

You stay true to your quest.
So let the beauty that is the musical universe engulf
Recharge your spirit.
Purify your mind.
Touch your soul.
And give you the eternal joy and happiness you truly
You now have the knowledge.
Do you want it?
And if you had it, would you flaunt it?
Well It's yours!"

Well, It's yours


There is approaching light
A-flowing, soaring through your world
The fire burns within your heart
And now it's yours
If you feel it in yourself
I know the light goes through the stars

There is approaching light
A-flowing, soaring through your world
The fire burns within your heart
And now it's yours
If you feel it in yourself
I know the light goes through the stars

Well, It's yours
Well, It's yours

Friday, August 1, 2014

4 Reasons To Use Cloth Dinner Napkins

According to the EPA, American's produce 4.5 pounds of waste-- daily. This is astounding.

The smallest lifestyle changes can really help to cut down on the waste we produce. We've been using cloth napkins for about a year now and I couldn't be happier that we made the switch. It was an easy change to make and the cloth napkins not only look better, but they are so much more effective.

Consider these four reasons to purchase cloth napkins, it really is worth it!

1. Class it up: Cloth napkins add class to any dinner table.

2. Reduce waste: On average, an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins per year. If each person used one less napkin a day, it would save a billion pounds of waste from landfills each year. 

3. Reduce pollution: Pollution causing machinery is used to produce paper napkins. This includes diesel machinery, trucks, boats, paper mills, planes, trains and automobiles. 

4. Save money: Purchasing paper napkins can cost any where between $300 to $2,600 a year for a family of four. Cloth napkins will cost somewhere around $20 to $100 a year for a family of four + $8 in washing costs.

We already have about 20 cloth napkins on hand for just the two of us-- but after finding these little beauties, I've seriously considered purchasing some more.

Oxford Black, Blue Stripe and Red Cloth Napkins by Suzuya

Organic cotton, Striped Dinner Napkin Set by Shilpa Rathi 

Sky Map Linen Napkins from Anthropologie

Grey Chevron Linen Napkins found at Pottery Barn

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