Burnout and anxiety is a common diagnosis in today's fast-paced, technologically-driven society. Between working your day job, running your start-up business, maintaining your relationships, and thriving amid a pandemic, there's very little "you" time left, which can cascade into a slew of issues that affect your psychological equilibrium. Obsessing over your long ass to-do list, while avoiding said to-do list to scroll through Twitter for seven hours a day, can easily lead to you feeling overwhelmed and mentally scattered.
It's only a matter of time before your psychological distress shows physical symptoms through changes in your appetite, sleep patterns, and your overall mood. The digital age, as beneficial as it can be, has the potential to be just as detrimental to our wellness. And although technology and our to-do list isn't going anywhere, it's important that we learn some proactive methods that help us prioritize our psychological health which, for many of us, begins with mindfulness.
When most people think of the word "mindfulness" they likely picture someone sitting Indian-style in the middle of a forest chanting mantras until they experience some mystical, life-altering experience that grants them access to the wisdom of the cosmos. Although this is a perfectly valid approach to mindfulness, it's not necessarily practical for everyone. There's a common misconception that mindfulness and meditation practices only consist of stillness, breath-work, and silence. However, it's important that we broaden our idea of this practice, which is ultimately about being more present in our day-to-day experiences to nurture our optimal wellness in mind, body, and spirit. Check out the best mindfulness practice for your zodiac sign:
As one of the most active signs of the zodiac, meditating in a quiet room may not be the most engaging method of mindfulness for you. Action and excitement is what you thrive on and many Aries are known to be naturally-gifted athletes, thanks to their ruling planet Mars. Anyone influenced by the energetic ram is more likely to enjoy active meditations, versus those that require stillness, to release all of that excess energy in a more healthy way that doesn't result in your typical crash and burn.
Prioritizing a regular exercise routine can be just what you need to improve your sense of presence. Sign up for that kickboxing class or join a team sport that allows your inner Amazon Goddess free reign to release pent up frustration while increasing your ability to focus on what's right in front of you.
If anyone is into kicking back and opting for more stationary mindfulness practices, it would be you. Physiologically, Taurus is associated with the throat, neck, and thyroid. Integrating chants into your meditation can help you maintain balance in mind, body, and spirit. Transcendental meditation is an approach in which word, sound, and phrases—known as mantras—are repeated for twenty minutes, twice a day.
You can freestyle with this method by simply tuning into your heart to connect with a mantra that works for you or you can write a list prior to meditating that you can read. Our words are powerful and carry a vibration within their own. You're encouraged to tap into the power of spoken word to bring more clarity, peace, and balance into your life.
One of the zodiac signs that can benefit the most from mindfulness is you, Gemmie. Your ruling planet, Mercury, is associated with the mind and our thoughts. This, along with your mutable nature, can easily lead to you feeling anxious and scattered. Given your naturally inquisitive nature, you're prone to experiencing sensory overload, thanks to your excessive thirst for knowledge. Not only is Mercury associated with your thoughts but with your communication as well, particularly related to writing.
Automatic writing can be the perfect technique for you to tap into higher states of consciousness and deeper levels of serenity. You can engage with this practice by simply going into a quiet space and setting the intention for what you'd like to gain from your session, whether it be guidance regarding an important life decision or inspiration for your next work of art.
As one of the most empathic signs of the zodiac, it's important that you keep your aura and heart clear of discordant energies that you can pick up via your daily interactions. You are known as the caregiver of the zodiac but your giving nature can result in you running yourself ragged for the sake of appeasing others. If you're not careful with balancing your energy, you can wind up resenting the people who aren't grateful or capable of reciprocating your efforts.
With that being said, Loving-Kindness (or Metta) meditation is used to develop an attitude of love and kindness toward everything—yes, that includes your hyper-critical mother-in-law. Start by taking a few deep breaths and envision yourself inhaling compassion into your heart space. Once you're relaxed enough, direct that energy within your heart to someone who needs it or even to the world as a whole. Repeat this mediation regularly to dissolve any bitterness and grief that keeps a wall up between you and others.
As the superstar of the zodiac, and the center of the Universe, it's important that you stay charged up so you can continue your quest in taking over the world in your bold, enlivened approach. Your warmth and vitality often makes you a magnet for all kinds of people, making you one of the most popular signs of the zodiac. Although others can regularly benefit from the light that you shine into their lives, it's important that you take time to replenish your vibes for your overall well-being.
Qigong, meaning "life energy cultivation", is a Chinese mindfulness approach that incorporates breathing exercises and slow body movements based on martial arts. There are thousands of Qigong exercises involving numerous kinds of breathing techniques that can energize the body while cultivating the mind and spirit to experience more peace and flow in your life.
If anyone can use a solid mindfulness practice, it's your Mercury-ruled, analytical ass. We get it, Virgo. You've got the vision, the execution plan, and all of the people that will play a role in your level up. A lot of your time is spent organizing and planning for the future that you can experience intense bouts of anxiety when you're in workaholic mode. With so many ideas swirling around in your head, it's important that you have a place to record them.
Sticky notes are your best friend providing you with a sense of comfort when you deviate from your regularly scheduled program to carve out some time for yourself. Walking meditation is the perfect mindfulness technique to get you out of the office and into nature. Something as simple as taking a 15-minute walk every day can help clear your mind, settle unhinged emotions, and loosen tension in your body to experience a greater sense of serenity and stability.
As an air sign, you're naturally inclined to live in your mind, and with you being represented by the scales, you've got a tendency to play mental ping pong due to your diplomatic nature. Your ability to see both sides of a situation can be beneficial but sometimes it can be equally overwhelming when it's time to make an important decision. When it comes to your meditation practice, it can seem impossible to quiet the incessant chatter of your mind to receive clear guidance that can help you navigate your life with more trust and flow.
Guided meditation is a great option for shifting your focus from meeting the gazillion deadlines in your planner to grounding yourself in the present moment to experience the calm and clarity that comes from practicing mindfulness. Next time you're feeling on edge, check out YouTube for a guided meditation to bring you back to center.
Life is already hectic enough attempting to balance your daily demands on top of you being one of the most empathic signs of the zodiac. Your heightened sensitivity and psychic awareness makes you a magnet for all kinds of energies. Think of yourself like a sponge. As one of the more emotionally-centered signs, you run the risk of absorbing other people's feelings, which can have a negative impact on your health and well-being. Developing a sense of mindfulness about your energy, and those that you come into contact with, can help you determine the difference between what's energetically yours and what's not.
Try a simple candle gazing meditation to not only help you recenter yourself but to also cleanse any negative vibes you've been picking up. If possible, opt for a white candle as it represents purification. As you gaze into the flame, imagine yourself being cleansed of any heavy energies or simply allow yourself to be completely consumed by the dance of the flame.
Given your mutable, on-the-go energy, an active mediation would serve you best in developing more mindfulness. Physiologically, your zodiac sign is associated with the lower half of the body, particularly the hips and thighs.
Dancing is the perfect meditation for you to recenter your sporadic energy while also releasing the endorphins you need to remain your usual optimistic, joyful self. There's no coincidence that dancing is associated with the Sacral chakra. This particular chakra also governs how you process emotions, making dance an extremely cathartic, transcendental experience for you. Whenever life gets too stressful or heavy, turn on your fav playlist and let loose. Fully being lost in the moment is exactly what mindfulness is all about.
There's a lot of pressure being the boss and your goal-oriented approach to life can leave little time to reconnect with your zen. Your ruling planet Saturn can make you rigid when it comes to the structures in place in your life, making it important to develop a little more flexibility. Aches and pain resulting from stress is even more common for you as an Earth sign, emphasizing the importance of physical activity that can ease the tension in your body.
Yoga has been practiced for many centuries and has been proven to reduce pain, depression, and anxiety. Now that the weather is warming up, this is a good time to grab your mat and hit your local Yoga at the Park class.
Who said meditation has to be some elaborate, time-consuming ritual that you partake in to simply gain some peace of mind in the midst of the chaos? Life is constantly throwing things at us and although we don't necessarily have a say in every single thing that comes our way, we do have power over our response to these unnerving experiences. Physiologically, Aquarius is associated with the circulatory system, making it super important for you to pay attention to your breathing.
Breath awareness meditation is one of the most common, and easy, ways to meditate because it actually gives you something to focus on during a quiet moment of pause and reflection. The goal is to simply focus on your breathing. You can engage with this process by counting your breath. Whenever your mind wanders off elsewhere, gently reel it back in and start counting from one again as you breathe in and out. Keep track of how many breaths you can take without getting distracted and monitor your progress over the course of a month to see if mindfulness is becoming easier for you.
As the most imaginative sign of the zodiac, the best mindfulness technique for you isn't too far away from your usual, extended bouts of daydreaming that you do throughout your day. Visualization meditation is a powerful tool that even the most novice mindfulness student can master. Not only can this method be used to manifest your dream job or the love of your life, but your overall health and well-being can benefit from this practice as well.
Prior to starting your day, spend five minutes in bed imagining how you would like your day to go. If possible, amp up the mindfulness by tapping into the sensations of smell, taste, touch, and sound as you visualize your day ahead. Practice this on a regular basis to cultivate a clearer vision for your life and greater optimism to help you overcome any obstacles that you may face along the way.
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Originally published on May 8, 2019
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Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Summer Walker's 'Caresha Please' Interview Shows Why Yung Miami Is The Ultimate Girl's Girl
As one-half of the City Girls, Yung Miami (born Caresha Brownlee) has always used her voice to empower women, whether it’s telling them to boss up or leave a relationship that’s no longer serving them. And with her Revolt podcast, “Caresha Please,” Miami continues to uplift other women but in a more intimate setting.
The “Act Up” rapper’s latest interview with Summer Walker proves that she not only raps about it but she practices what she preaches. The interview covered everything from the “Unloyal” singer’s dating life to being a mother to her music career. When the conversation shifted to Summer’s anxiety, Miami used the moment to praise the Billboard music award winner’s qualities and talent.
Summer has been vocal about her anxiety in the past and explained that it sometimes affects her when she’s performing. While talking to Miami, she also shared that she struggles with being herself in public because she fears being judged.
“They be judging ratchet b--hes, like they really be judging ratchet b--hes,” the “Pull Up” singer said. “People be like, ‘oh, she look dirty, she look dusty, she’s ghetto, like dadada…so I be tryna just keep it together, and then I know it’s also hard for people to like understand the concept of multifaceted people like people that have different sides of them, like it’s not just one way, and it be confusing people, and they be like, ‘well, how she sing about this but she act like this.”
Summer continued by saying that that’s why she is generally quiet on stage because she doesn’t want to say anything “stupid.”
Miami quickly chimed in to let Summer know that it’s okay to be herself, and that’s why people love her. “Anybody that knows me know like I’m a big Summer Walker fan, and I feel like when it comes to R&B artists, we don’t have a R&B artist that’s showing their personality or showing a different side,” she said.
“When we see R&B artists, we just see like their music and just the reserved them, so I kinda feel like to have a new R&B artist that’s ratchet, that’s themselves, that’s what we need. That’s what’s missing, and that’s what make you, you, and that’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with you because when I found out who Summer Walker was, it was “Girls Need Love,” and then I remember, I saw like a twerking video of you on the pole, and I’m like, ‘I love this b--h.’”
She continued, “Like I never saw that from a R&B singer, and I feel like from one artist to another, I don’t feel like you should bury your personality or not be true to yourself because of perspective.” The “Jobs” artist ended her response by saying that people love others who are authentic.
Summer admitted that everything Miami said was true and that she never thought of it like that. “People just be in their head for no reason,” she said.
We love seeing women give other women their flowers and provide safe spaces. At the end of the interview, both Summer and Miami expressed how much they like each other and how they should hang out more.
Miami’s interview with Summer is the true definition of sisterhood.
Summer Walker Talks Realizing Her Self-Worth, London On Da Track, Lil Meech & More | Caresha Pleasewww.youtube.com
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