A Simple Breathing Meditation to Calm Stress

Guest Post by Sarah Gyampoh


One morning I woke up, and my world was literally spinning in circles.  I had no clue what has happening, and I was terrified.  To make a long story short, I was transported to the ER by ambulance and diagnosed with vertigo.    


The diagnosis was a true wake up call for me.


As women and moms, we are beyond busy.  Always doing something, driving somewhere, making sure everything is in order and trying to take care of ourselves in the process. 


We go from task to task never having any time to just be.  The baby is crying and needs to be fed but the dog just pooped on the floor kind of a thing.  While these are tasks that need to be completed and they may make us feel stressed out, they are not at the level of running away from a hungry bear and unfortunately our body has no way of distinguishing between the two.  Great if you do actually need to escape a hungry bear, not so great if you aren’t truly in need of “crisis mode.”  We are living in a constant state of heightened awareness and stress without even realizing it sometimes and it can be detrimental to our well being.


Our nervous system goes into overdrive and we stay in fight or flight, unless we are able to create the awareness and do something about it.



* you feel on edge all the time

* everything seems to be getting to you

* your sleep is not restful

* you have digestive issues

* headaches seem to find you

* a million things are swirling through your mind and you are unable to have clear thoughts


The good news is that there is a simple way to take yourself out of fight or flight mode and into rest and digest mode and it takes only a few minutes and can be done anywhere! 



Allow yourself some time alone, if possible, to do this exercise. Begin by taking notice of your natural breath. Just breathe and be. There is nothing to be done right now but to focus on your breath.

Sit, stand, or lie in a comfortable position and if you like place one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest. Begin to breathe only through your nose; inhaling through the nostrils and exhaling through the nostrils. Maybe you would like to count the length of each breath. Inhaling for a count of four and exhaling to a four count.

As you inhale, the bottom hand moves first then the top. As you exhale, your top hand moves then your bottom. Start lengthening and deepening your breaths. Be present with each breath and really feel how each inhale fills you up with ease and each exhale releases stress.

Think of something you would like to release from your life and something you would like to enhance. Maybe you want to release anger or fear; and maybe you’d like to enhance patience or peace. Enhance on the inhale, release on the exhale.

Continue to do this for as long as you’d like, at least a full three minutes.


That’s it! A simple, yet effective breathing meditation that will help you relieve stress in an instant, no matter where you are or what you're doing. 


I hope you will be able to put the practice to use and that it brings you some calm.


Sarah holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and she has completed two Yoga Teacher trainings.  One in hatha yoga, the other in prenatal yoga.  She is also a certified Yoga Birth Instructor.  She was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic.  She is the mother of four beautiful beings.

Sarah combines her social work skills, yogic philosophy, and nature’s wisdom to help mothers connect with their inner knowing and experience the majesty of motherhood.   She believes that there will always be a laundry pile waiting to be folded, and that life and motherhood are to be enjoyed, peaks and valleys and all.

You can find her at: www.maternalessence.com and www.facebook.com/sarahgyampoh.maternalessence

How to Plan a Personal Retreat

I did something incredible the other day. Something that brought clarity and new life to my business and life. I took a personal retreat.


What exactly is a personal retreat? It’s a time to get away from the distractions of every day life and focus on YOU. Focus on what you want to focus on. To get clear on your goals, spend some much needed time to relax, and to feel a sense of newness to life and where you’re headed.


So, today I’m going to share with you the details of my personal retreat in hopes that it will inspire you to take one for yourself.


Whether you’re a business owner, a mother that runs a family (which is also a “business” owner), or you just need some more clarity in your life, your life and health goals, need to practice a little more self care, need some major stress relief, or are looking for motivation to take that next step or do something that scares you, this post is for you.


My retreat started out as a need to find a way to stop spinning my wheels. I was doing great things, but I wasn’t really getting anywhere. Some weeks my motivation was really high, other weeks, my motivation tanked. I was inconsistent with my goals for my business and truthfully, inconsistent with my life and health goals as well.


Let me tell you that this retreat has been a game changer for myself, my health, my family life, and for my business. I came up with incredible ideas. Ideas that I feel good about and action steps I need to take to reach my personal and business goals.


I hope today’s post will really help motivate you to find a little time for self care, a time to unwind and unplug, and a time to destress as you figure out your motivation and what you really want out of your life.  


Before I share the details of my retreat, I’ve made you a little retreat guide so that you can create one of your own. It’s filled with a schedule for your retreat as well as a suggested packing list so you have everything you need with you. I found that following a schedule was KEY to having a successful retreat.






Of course the first step to any retreat is to find a place to get away. This needs to be a place away from your home, away from distraction and everyday life. I recommend going no further than an hour or so away to give you the feel of being away, but not being too far just in case. Choose 2-3 full days you can escape.


I have a lovely friend with a cabin just 15 minutes from my house and it was the perfect location. It was right by a creek, nestled in a bunch of trees, and gave me that feeling of being in the mountains all by myself (my happy place).


I recommend you pick a place that will bring you joy. Do you want to be able to relax by a pool? Find a hotel that you can enjoy a good book or have a brainstorming session poolside. Do you love the mountains or the beach? Rent a room that fits your desires and that makes you feel most at peace.


If possible, save up a bit for the event. You don’t want to go to an old motel where the smells make you sick or the bed is 50 years old. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your room, so I’d recommend finding a place that makes you feel comfortable. What things help you feel less stressed? Ask for a room with windows, or a back corner room that is quiet, or a room poolside if that’s what you enjoy.


Whatever location you choose, make sure it is one that will help you feel inspired, uplifted, motivated and ready to take on your goals.


With that, you’ll need to plan ahead to find the proper babysitting if needed. This is a time for you, no kids allowed. Get your babysitting lined up well in advance and you’ll be on your way to your personal retreat in no time!



Ah, the schedule. This is KEY. Having a personal retreat schedule will make the entire difference whether or not your retreat is successful.


During the retreat, you will be spending a lot of time writing and brain dumping. You will also spend a lot of time relaxing and enjoying some much needed self care. It’s important to know when you’re doing what so you leave the retreat with a good balance of getting stuff done and feeling rejuvenated when you leave. The worst thing that could happen is that you leave feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.

My supplies: Retreat Guide by Bold & Sassy Solutions, my schedule, notebook, reading book, poster, markers and pens. 

My supplies: Retreat Guide by Bold & Sassy Solutions, my schedule, notebook, reading book, poster, markers and pens. 


I’ve made a very detailed schedule for you that will guide you through every minute of the day (don’t worry, there’s plenty of room for rest, pool time, exercise, good food, and all that good stuff).



As a general outline of how my retreat went, and how I recommend doing it, I will share a general 2 day retreat outline. The guide I’ve provided for you has a more detailed schedule and an option for a 3rd day and what to do if you have that time.



Most hotel check in times are 3 PM. I usually call earlier and see if my room is ready. Most of the time it is, unless it’s a busy weekend or they have an event going on. If you can get there earlier or if you don’t need to check in, I recommend going as early as possible. If you can’t check in early, then go in the evening and let it be your relaxation time. Don’t do any work, just enjoy a nice dinner, relax, watch an inspirational movie, and take a few hours to get prepared for the next day.


If you don’t need to check in, I recommend either staying the night before so you can get an early start to the morning, or heading up early the same morning.



I recommend finding movement of any sort in each day. This can be a simple jog, hike, yoga routine, or whatever gets your heart pumping. Try to get your exercise in early in the morning before you do anything else. This will wake up your body and your brain and get you motivated.



Throughout the day, you will have 2-2.5 hours of brain dumping sessions.


The first brain dump is literally that. Write down all of your ideas, your thoughts, your worries, your fears, your excitement, or anything that comes to your mind. You will set a timer (by the way, you phone is OFF during this time) and just write.


When the time goes off, set everything down and either go for a walk, exercise more, or read a good book for 30-60 minutes. This is a time you can enjoy a meal or a snack and just let your brain relax.


Then, get back to it for another 2-2.5 hour brain dump session. Same idea, but this time you’ll take all the ideas you had from the first brain dump and narrow them down to what you want to focus on. Pick 3-5 things to focus on from the first brain dump, and then continue to write, to brainstorm, and to dream.



Each day will have 2-3 brainstorming sessions filled with breaks for self care in between. Then, when evening comes, you will put everything away, enjoy a nice bath or dip in the pool, enjoy dinner by yourself, and fall asleep to a good book or movie (whatever relaxes you the most).


At this point, my brain was TIRED. It was incredible to see how much strength it took to take my ideas and get them out, organized, and made into a plan. Take some time for self care. Get a massage, eat a nice dinner, watch a movie you love. Whatever it is that will help you be calm, relieve stress, and enjoy the evening, do it.

There was a creek right outside my door and it was heaven to dip my toes in and relax. 

There was a creek right outside my door and it was heaven to dip my toes in and relax. 


The next day, you will repeat the same process as you continually narrow down your goals and your vision.


Remember, this retreat can be used as a business retreat or a personal retreat, but I wouldn’t recommend making it both. Don’t try to figure everything out at once with work, with your family life, and with your personal life. Choose something specific to focus on and stick to it.


You can choose to make it a personal retreat where you explore your personal vision, your personal goals, your motherhood goals and vision, your life goals, etc. In this scenario, the retreat is about YOU. It’s about becoming the best YOU you can be. Go into it with a plan of what you want to get out of it and then it will come as you brainstorm.


You can also choose to have a business retreat. If you run a business, want to run a business, or even are trying to figure out what to do with your career, make it a business retreat. Focus on work, what you want out of life as it pertains to your work status, and how you need to change or motivate yourself personally to find success in this area of your life.


I know many people have marriage retreats with their spouse as well. These are all great ideas for gaining more inspiration in life, motivation toward your goals, and accomplishing your dreams. Whatever retreat works for you, go for it!



Of course the goal of any personal retreat is to come away with actionable goals to work on in the coming weeks and months. So, your brain dumping sessions eventually lead to the discovery of a few very specific, very actionable, and outlined goals.


Once you spend the first day just brainstorming ideas, your retreat guide will lead you to picking the top 3-5 ideas you want to follow through on. You’ll leave your retreat with clear goals, and more motivation and determination to get stuff done.


The key to making a plan is to take plenty of paper to scribble on, a notebook to write ideas, and a planner to turn those ideas into a checklist and guide of actionable items.




Lastly, repeat. Yep, you’ve gotta do this at regular intervals to see results. Just like any health goal, you need to track, revisit, and modify as you go along.


I recommend planning a retreat twice per year if possible. If that’s not possible, at least get away once every year to make sure you’re staying on track and continuing to make progress.


Eventually your family will get used to these retreats and you will look forward to them for the much needed alone time and self care you’re looking for.


Now it’s time to start planning your retreat! Tell me where you’re going to go! What kind of retreat do you want to create? Let your vision be clear and dream big.

Where will your next retreat be?

Where will your next retreat be?

Food and social events: How to enjoy the party without obsessing over the food

Food and social events: How to enjoy the party without obsessing over the food

Learn to eat mindfully at your next social gathering. Feel safe around food and enjoy the party. 

Mindful eating | Intuitive eating | Nutrition | Nutrition Tips |