Saturday, August 1, 2009

10 (Free or Cheap) Paths to Zen

Life can be tough. Finding that proverbial work-life balance seems less likely for you than the US Government finding Osama Bin Laden. Plus, dealing with "Empty-Pocket Syndrome" only makes it worse. For your consideration, Recessionista, here are 10 ways to find a little peace in your life without spending the money to hire on a personal guru. Enjoy!

1. Write an Open, Honest, Seething Letter to Your Ex. Go ahead, say all of the horrible things you wanted to say face to face but never did. Use as many four letter words as you like. Bring up issues you had "forgiven" him or her for. Bring up the issues you never made into issues. You even can have carte blanche to go below the belt and tell him/her that you have never smelled feet so stinky. Once you sign off the letter with "Have a nice life," count to ten, and tear the letter to shreds. Exorcism complete. Repeat as desired.

2. Call in to the Local Radio and Request A Song Dedicated to You. Because you deserve it - you are fabulous! Who needs to wait for a romantic gesture to come from someone else, you owe it to you to romance yourself a bit! Caveat: You might want to stay away from requesting tunes such as "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera, the musical equivalent of a self-help book.

3. Turn Off Everything. Power-off your iPhones and Blackberries. Shutdown you laptops. Turn off the television, the DVD player, and the stereo. Turn off your lights (light a candle before you do this, of course.) Now, sit. Ignore the immediate wave of panic that comes with device separation. Think and breathe. Notice and be aware of where your mind travels to. Okay, your time out is can now turn House, M.D.back on.

4. Create Your Own Cocktail and Name it After Yourself. I have had the good fortune to have a Master Mixologist in New York City, Mark Noonan., create a cocktail and name it in my honor (and, personal bias aside, it is AMAZING!) If you have neither the geographical nor financial means to find yourself in similar good fortune, fear not! Put your amateur mixologist hat on and stir away. Bonus: No judgement if the "Amy X" cocktail consists of Vitamin Water and Vodka; it's your signature, after all.

5. Take 48 hrs. to Detox from the News. No CNN, no NY Times, no Drudge Report. Give yourself a break from taking the weight of the world on your shoulders and spend the time catching up with news of equal importance - the news of your friends, family, and acquaintances.

6. Listen to the Dustiest CD in your Collection. Hey, you bought it for a reason. While the thought of listening to Don Henley's Greatest Hits might evoke an initial wave of nausea, one round of "The Boys of Summer" will bring you back to brighter times.

7. Take a Picture. Regardless of your location, the camera forces you to see the world (literally and figuratively) through a different lens. Take an afternoon, pretend you are Annie Leibovitz, and start shooting. You might be surprised at what you start to see around you.

8. Schedule One Hour of "Me Time" per Day. Whether you devote the time to knitting, skateboarding, or playing on your Wii, it is important to spend time with and for yourself. (Note: this should also involve powering down the iPhones and Blackberries. You don't want to be a rude date to yourself.)

9. Start a Gratitude Diary. I have recommended this before, but it is worth reinforcing because often times we forget how lucky we truly are. Pick three things daily to document, and you will soon discover how blessed you really are.

10. Find a Mantra. It does not need to be something from Sanskrit, but rather choose a phrase, quote, or expression to repeat to yourself when stress finds you. One of my favorites is "I can always move back in with my parents." I'm sure you will find yours. Namaste.

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