WholeYou podcast #5: overview of the chakras

WholeYou podcast #5: overview of the chakras

Feeling a little spacey or up in your head? Listen to this episode for tips on how to know if your first chakra is out of whack, and what to do to get grounded. 

Thank you all for your comments and thoughts on our first few shows. We really appreciate you taking the time to listen and share your thoughts. If you like the show, subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and please leave a review on iTunes  — it helps us to reach more people!

In this "chakras 101" episode, we give an overview on the chakra system and how to work with it for more holistic wellness in mind, body, and spirit. If you've been to a yoga or meditation class before, you've likely heard references to the chakras. And if you're excited about this episode, lucky you! We have a whole series of future episodes planned to dive into each chakra in depth. 

Here's what we chat about in episode #5:

  • What the heck are chakras? 
  • What got each of us interested in chakras
  • Brief history of the chakra system
  • The name, physical location, and central issues/themes for all 7 chakras
  • How you can explore working with the chakras to benefit your wellness — so many ways!

We'd LOVE to hear your thoughts, so if you take a listen, please leave a comment on your thoughts, or any questions or ideas you have.

You can stream or download episode #5 via SoundCloud here on the blog (click "Read More" below), or search for WholeYou (and subscribe) in iTunes or your favorite podcast app. And if you love the show, don't forget to leave an iTunes review

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do i really need to meditate daily to feel calmer?


“I know meditation is ‘good for me,’ but how important is it really? And do I have to do it everyday?”

I hear some variation of this question frequently, so I thought I'd share my “answer" to it here on the blog.

People may ask this question when they feel like they have tried and “failed” at some kind of meditation practice, or perhaps they haven’t yet tried because they “just know” they would fail. They might be looking for permission to not meditate without feeling guilty about it, or to understand how to overcome the blocks they’re experiencing when they practice.

A meditation practice doesn’t have to be rigid / all-or-nothing. 

Despite my firm belief that meditation is a powerful healing tool for a long list of physical, mental, and spiritual ailments, I do not meditate every single day. And on many of the days that I do, it’s only for about 10 minutes. I tell you this to be clear about the fact that I do not pretend to be “perfect” when it comes to this practice.

I certainly admire people who do commit to never missing a day, and sometimes wish I could be one of them. But I also know myself well enough by now to understand that if there is an expectation of “perfection,” I will usually feel intimidated and easily discouraged when I don’t “measure up.” Perhaps you relate?

Some people are motivated by seeing evidence that they’re keeping a new habit/behavior going everyday without missing a single day and thus “breaking the chain.” If that’s you and it’s working, then more power to you! For me, though, the higher the number gets, the greater anxiety (about possibly breaking the chain) and obligation (to not break the chain) I feel — and as important as certain practices are, I don’t want one of my primary motivators to be fear/obligation.

At this point in my life, I’m happy being a “frequent” meditator, and if you have found that the black-and-white thinking of “everyday or why bother” has gotten in your way, please let this be encouragement to find the gray area for your own practice.

The same principle applies with the length of time. Some of the most beneficial meditations I have done are the occasional two-minute mini breaks during the workday. To just sit and breathe for a minute — even with the temptation to check email again, take a social media break, or “get one more thing done” before the next meeting — is an incredible act of self-care, and I also believe, enhances brainpower and focus.

So instead of telling yourself, “if I can’t sit for 10 minutes, it doesn’t even count, so why bother?” — give yourself permission to have mini practices, and know that this does not make you a “bad” meditator!

Also, remember that “meditation" can mean a lot than just sitting in silence with your eyes closed.

In my post on the 3 types of mindfulness, I mention that meditation falls into the category of “formal mindfulness practices.” I would argue that most formal mindfulness practice can be called meditation — that ultimately, it boils down to intentionally stepping outside of your “normal” awareness of life and shifting that awareness fully into the present moment for a period of time.

That could certainly entail sitting in silence and being aware of the breath, and it could also include:

  • a walking meditation, bringing awareness to the subtle movements of the leg/foot with each slow step)
  • repeating a mantra out loud or silently
  • coloring freehand or in a coloring book with full awareness of the movements of your hand on the page
  • dancing freestyle to one or all of the 5Rhythms
  • a solo “eating meditation” going beyond typical mindful eating practices and being keenly aware of every taste and texture, allowing yourself to savor each bite slowly
  • a nature meditation, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and textures in your favorite nature spots — like watching the birds come and go at the bird feeder, or noticing the reflection on a pond ripple and glimmer
  • making a meditation of your favorite self-care practices, like a sensory-rich bubble bath or a self-massage with warm coconut oil
  • journal stream-of-consciousness, allowing whatever flows into your mind to flow onto the page, a la morning pages from The Artist’s Way
  • doodling to an instrumental song, allowing the music to abstractly flow through your hand and onto the page

And those are just some examples! If sitting quietly everyday is not your jam, it’s probably a good idea to be with and explore the discomfort that comes up for you when sitting with yourself. And it may also be helpful to give yourself permission to experience meditation in other ways.

When I think about expanding my idea of “meditation” to include the above activities, suddenly it seems a lot more accessible and enjoyable.

So to come full circle back to the question at the beginning of this post: Yes, meditation is an incredibly powerful tool to deal with living in the 21st century. Though a meditation practice is far from the only way to clear your mind and access a sense of calm, it is one of the best ways. Unlike shadow comforts that feel good or relaxing in the moment then leave you feeling drained, guilty, or “unproductive” (hello Facebook scanning and hours-long Netflix marathons), meditation practices remind you that you're alive.

I don’t believe you have to do anything every single day beyond eating and sleeping (ok brush your teeth y’all), but there are tons of nourishing activities you can do frequently that will help you to feel more grounded, connected, and balanced in your life the more you do them. (Showering! Meditation! Movement! Snuggling! Long talks with friends!)

If you’re looking for some new meditation practices, check out my free original guided meditations

What are some of your favorite ways to meditate? Share in the comments!

WholeYou podcast #4: translating the wisdom of yoga into daily life


WholeYou is back with episode 4, and this time Lauren and I are talking all about yoga for mind-body-spirit wellness, and some of our biggest lessons and takeaways from yoga teacher training. 

Between the holidays, moving into a new house, and lots of traveling for Lauren, it's been a while since our last episode — but it was worth the wait! I hope y'all enjoy listening to this as much as we enjoyed recording it.

Audio Note: You’ll notice that the audio has a little bit of distortion at parts — it’s not too bad, but you might wonder if there are little gremlins whispering on the recording. ;) We did our best once we realized the issue, and will work on fixing it before we record next time!

Thank you all for your comments and thoughts on our first few shows. We really appreciate you taking the time to listen and share your thoughts. If you like the show, subscribe on iTunes for to never miss a show, and please leave a review!

In this episode, we chat about our experiences from our yoga teacher trainings. Lauren completed hers in Costa Rica at the end of 2015, and I started mine here in Nashville in September and finish up this spring. Lauren did a couple of great posts on the top lessons she learned from her trainings (see links at the bottom of the show notes), so we broke those down as a framework for our discussion.

Here's what we cover in Episode 4:

  • What “yoga” really means
  • It’s about much more than just the physical asana practice — more about some of the original purposes of yoga
  • The importance of finding your own personal practice and voice
  • Body diversity in yoga (and taking the Instagram yoga world with a grain of salt)
  • How moving slowly in your practice can benefit you
  • Respecting boundaries as a yoga teacher
  • Some key points about trauma-sensitive yoga
  • How yoga can help you learn to trust your body even more

We'd LOVE to hear your thoughts, so if you take a listen, please leave a comment, or any questions or ideas you have for future shows.

Stream or download below from SoundCloud, head on over to iTunes, or search for WholeYou in your favorite podcast app!

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Show Notes & Quotes:

More from Valerie:

More from Lauren:

*Music credit for our mini theme song is Little Idea from Bensound.com. Thanks, Ben!

*let it shine* interview: mara glatzel


In today's installment of my *Let it Shine* interview series, I'm talking with intuitive guide and energy healer, Mara Glatzel.

I've been quietly following Mara's blog on and off for several years, and I finally sheepishly reached out to her last week about doing this interview. It's silly that it took me so long to connect with her given my long-time admiration of Mara and her work, but I'm so glad that I did so I can share her story with you!

Here are a few reasons why I love Mara:

  • She is seriously the best of both worlds. While some blog posts about topics like abundance or self-love or authenticity often feel flimsy and superficial to me, Mara gets into these concepts at a REAL and soul-deep level. She weaves words together like a beautiful silver-flecked tapestry, and has the substance to back it up.
  • She talks about the hard shit we often want to avoid but NEED to talk about: such as grieving the loss of your body fantasy.
  • We have some freaky-cool similarities. We're both pisces, combo INFJ/ENFJ, love Outlander, graduated with our masters in clinical social work the same year... uhhh. I'm pretty sure the universe wants us to be friends.

So without further adieu, let's get into the interview! {And a few comments from the peanut gallery (me) in brackets}

Tell us a little about your background: What brought you where you are now in your work, and what's your primary focus?

I started my business as a personal blog in 2008. Over the years, I found that running it and tending to the community gathering in my little corner of the internet was something that brought me so much joy - and also that delicious feeling of showing up in the world as I am. In 2010, I went back to school for social work, thinking that it would be a beautiful fit for me to work towards becoming a therapist. However, at some point during my two year program, it started to not feel like a perfect fit for me. The work that I was doing was compelling and I loved it, but I was also exhausted verging on being completely burnt out.

In early 2012, I made the decision to combine my love for my website, which had grown quite a bit at that point, and my skills as a therapist to create a coaching business where I could also teach classes and run in person retreats for women. This shift filled me with fear, but there was also the resonance of truth. I could feel myself getting closer and closer to what I was put on this planet to do.

Now, as an intuitive guide for women, I facilitate daily conversations about intention, truth, and celebration. At the core of this work is the deep desire help others live well-intentioned lives, which means… more joy, grit, and vibrant imperfection to spare. 

When you think of your "inner light," what does that mean to you, and what role does it play in your life and work?

I think of my inner light as the brilliant and uniquely powerful expression of my spirit. My inner light is at the truth of who I am - and what I have to offer the world around me. So often, this truth is clouded by who we think we "should" be or what we think that we "should" do and we seek to hide our inner light out of fear that we will be seen as different or that people wouldn't accept us if they truly knew us.

I believe that my inner light is the best part of who I am, and that living and sharing from that place of light allows me to best serve the world around me. When I am able to immerse myself in the vulnerability of showing up in the world exactly as I am, that inner light becomes a beacon that allows my right people, my tribe, to find me. When I allow myself to be witnessed in this way, I provide myself with an opportunity to be loved as I am, to belong as I am. {I am in love with your definition of this!} 

What are a few of your rituals or practices that help you stay inspired and connected to yourself and your purpose?

There are moments when I notice myself getting disconnected from myself. I notice that I am scrolling through my social media pages, again and again, wanting to feel like I am a part of something, but feeling more disconnected each time I log on. Or, I might be scattered and anxious, unable to answer the question: "What would I like to do right now?" Whenever I notice myself starting to feel a bit frayed around the edges, I realize that it is a good time for me to unplug completely. I like to do this for a weekend a month, because it allows me an opportunity to be a human first, to recalibrate to my own inner wisdom instead of trying to tune into the noise of the crowd around me.

{A thousand times yes! You describe this feeling so well that I often get when scrolling on my phone or on the computer, and you're right — JUST UNPLUGGING in that moment is the best possible thing I can do.}

I also incorporate the lunar phases into my life as a touching stone and way to organize my relationship with myself. Each New Moon, I set an intention for the moon cycle ahead. This intention is typically the answer to the question: "What do I need right now?" Then, over the course of the moon cycle, I hold that intention in the forefront of my mind by checking in with it each morning. I find that this helps me focus and align my inner compass with my own truth. (It also helps me keep my eyes on my own paper, which I find is something that keeps distractions at bay and helps me remain illuminated by my own inner light.

So often these days, we only get the "highlight reel" of others' lives via Facebook, Instagram, etc. If we could see you at some of your "real life" less-than-perfect or mundane moments, what might we see?

You might see me wallowing in moments of freak out. There might be tears. Or the gurgle of fear-fueled words spilling out faster than I can stop them. You would see the human moments of exhaustion. The nerves that always seem to accompany the vulnerability of allowing yourself to be seen again and again.

The truth is, insecurity and fear don't go away. They show up whenever you find yourself, again, at your upper limit, struggling to soften and surrender into the newness of showing up authentically through transformation or shifts. Though the fear doesn't go away, there is a particular beauty and skill to allowing yourself to be exquisitely human. I don't believe that I have to do anything perfectly. I just want to do it, even if that includes the messiness of sobbing on the bathroom floor or needing a major pep talk to get it done.

{Again, I 100% agree here — there are so many messages out there about being 'fearless' and not having self-doubt, etc. but I just don't see that approach as reality-based.} 

However, I really try to include these moments in my highlight reel. I think there is an amazing amount of permission in showing your flaws and vulnerabilities on social media. There is a power to celebrating the truth that we don't have to be perfect robots in order to make our dreams come true, that it is ok to have your human experience alongside of your achievement. We are human beings and not robots. We can be afraid and ready. For me, it's really important to show up that way as often as possible.

What's one of your favorite breakfasts?

Mmmm. Avocado toast with a sprinkle of sea salt and scrambled eggs. Plus coffee with coconut milk, of course. {Sign me up!} 

And how about lunch/dinner?

I am a huge fan a big salads or veggie stir fry for lunch - and taking a real, live lunch break. My sweetheart is a professional chef, so she usually has dinner covered.{Ummmm, might be just a tad jealous here. ;D} (Although, I have a particular penchant for turkey burgers and roasted sweet potatoes.)

What feeds you spiritually?

Being out in nature. I find that I am nourished by leaving all of my devices behind and getting out in the fresh air. I live in a beautiful seaside community, so I like to find my way to the beach, dive into a pond, or watch the Osprey hunt over the harbor.

What is your favorite way to move your body?

I have a fondness for unstructured movement like a solid walk or an impromptu dance party.

{Love it! I'm just getting interested in the 5Rhythms, and super excited to explore it. I had a solo dance party this morning before work!}

3 items you always have with you (beyond wallet/keys/phone!)

Portland Bee Balm. Harry potter book on tape (on phone). A pen.

What are some of your absolute favorite fictional books, movies, and albums?

I love YA books and fantasy. Also, anything that Madeleine L'Engle. I'm currently reading my way back through the Wrinkle in Time quintet. Each book is just so gorgeously well-written. {Okay, the universe has given me Madeleine L'Engle twice randomly in one day... I think it's time for me to pick them up finally.} 

I adore television shows that feature quippy crime solvers with a romantic potential - Bones, Castle, etc. My favorite movie is Remember the Titans, but I will be won over by just about any football-themed movie. In this moment, I am also pretty into Vance Joy radio on Pandora. {HIS VOICE!!} 

Which podcasts, books, courses, or other resources have had a real impact on your life?

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams, Women who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
, The Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson, 
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, 
Trauma Stewardship by Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky‎ {*adds to Amazon wish list*}

What can you tell us about your offerings and any projects that you're working on? 

Yes! I am getting ready to run my absolute favorite course again this fall, The Deep Exhale. The Deep Exhale is a journey for women who are ready to rest - women who are exhausted physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Women who want to take action and create in their lives without sacrificing their own care. The Deep Exhale teaches women to rewrite what it means to receive their own care and adoration.

This class is for you if you are sitting there thinking: "I don’t have time to rest. I couldn’t possibly (even if I really wanted to). Must be nice to be able to relax. I have too much to do. Everyone is depending on me. I have to hold it all together, all the time. Sounds amazing, but…"

The truth is that you do have time and it is possible to pour more of your own care and more rest into your life in this exact moment. (And I really relish the opportunity to teach you how.)


Mara, thank you so much for taking the time to connect with my amazing readers — I adore you and I know they will, too. Namaste, and I can't wait to see what comes from you next!

***** If you resonated with Mara, I hope you'll check out her upcoming course and read through some of her posts! You also might like my recent post on what to do when you're feeling super overwhelmed — including a free printable that you can keep handy by your desk or on your fridge. 

the next 5 minutes you've got? move your body. {life balance 2.0 series}


I need the next 5 minutes you've got.


I'm finally watching The West Wing with my husband right now, and we're SO. HOOKED. Clocking in around 150 episodes (twice as many as the show we finally conquered last year — Lost) at a rate of maybe 3-4 episodes a week, this could take a while.

Apparently we like to arrive a good 10-15 years late to the primetime party, and I'm okay with that. It was pretty funny last year when I was walking around wanting to talk to anyone and everyone about Lost like it was something novel and exciting, not something that the rest of the world was buzzing about almost a decade prior.

On The West Wing, one of the funny little White House insider phrases that his staffers use a lot (to their respective assistants) is "I need the next __ minutes the President's got." When I started writing this little mini post, my first thought was:

I need the next 5 minutes you've got. 

Really, YOU need them, but I'm making this request of/challenge for you:

The next "free" 5 minutes you've got? Use them to move your body. 

That's it.

I could go on and on about the benefits of movement for mental clarity, productivity, yada yada yada. But you know all that. You just need the reminder to get off of your 'tocks and DO IT.

And notice the word "free." It is in quotation marks because we are never just "free" with nothing that we should/could be doing. Just like President Bartlet on The West Wing. But after whatever immediate activity or scheduled thing is done, that's when you're "free." Don't fall prey to the cult of busy.

I'm not asking you to go run 3 miles or book it to the gym ASAP. If you have plans to do that later, great! But that doesn't mean that you can't also use the next 5 minutes you've got to stretch, dance, walk, do a few qi gong movements — whatever.

A huge part of this whole "balance 2.0" thing is working smarter, not harder. It's challenging the old all-or-nothing thinking and saying, "you know what, I may or may not have time for yoga class later, but I do have 5 minutes right now and I'm going to use them."

We are a culture of head-dwellers.

Do yourself a huge favor right now and remember:

There is a body. 

There is THIS body.

And the next available moment I have, I will honor it by becoming more fully present with it, and more fully awake to this day.

That's all for now. Let me know how it goes.

Struggling to integrate joyful movement into your day-to-day life, and want some guidance, support, and accountability? Shoot me a note.