When was the last time you had a really good night's sleep? And how did you feel in the morning? A super-simple tip to get you started with evening rituals is to use a smudging tool when you've decided to bring your working day to an end. As soon as I finish my working day, I reach for my Palo Santo stick and cleanse away any lingering energies, feeling a sense of freshness and renewal as I breathe in the scent, and consciously welcome in a phase of rest and relaxation. Practise self-care. Our inner lover needs our affection and attention. This exercise is about self-care and luxury. To connect with your inner lover, organise an indulgent and healing treatment: a massage, aromatherapy bath, facial, or manicure/pedicure. If you prefer, go out dancing to celebrate life. The intention, not the method, is important. Find whatever heart gateway works for you. It is not about the amount of time you spend in this space; it is about the conscious awareness you bring to the connection. Experiment with love. Bored and lonely, she eventually takes to the outdoors. Her health, which had been sickly, improves as she experiences fresh air and exercise. Walking around the huge estate garden she comes to realize that there is an area that is walled in with no apparent entrance. She has heard of a secret garden on the property and has seen a bird flying over a wall to an area she determines must be the location of this garden. One day, she discovers an old buried key and she surmises that it must be the key to a long locked door in the garden wall. Her curiosity is piqued.

She becomes determined to find the way in. She has also made another discovery; the crying she has heard is that of a boy, her cousin, in fact. He is more spoiled than she is and is also, it appears, a cripple. When asked to elaborate how she felt, she repeatedly said 'bad and sad,' and then described a depressed feeling. All the while, her hands were flying in the air, depicting exactly the same hand gesture that she had used when describing her headaches. That is precisely what she felt even with her friends--that they were, through their actions, somehow forcing her out, leaving her alone to the point of exclusion. Hand gestures also help clear the confusion that can arise when seeking to understand the deepest sensation. For example, one person may give a good verbal description of how her lungs feel when she has an asthmatic attack. She may use words such as blocked and jammed, but her hands are telling us another deeper, truer story. While she talks of blocked and jammed, her hands move round and round in a twirling motion, giving the appearance of tying or winding and unwinding something. By gently asking her to describe more exactly the sensation of blocked and jammed, she finally comes to the deeper sensation of 'tied and bound,' which her hands had been telling us all along. Thus, hand gestures are the best indicator of the truth she is experiencing. With patience and persistence during questioning she is able to arrive at an exact description of the sensation her hand gesture has been constantly illustrating. Therefore, if you want to change your behavior in certain situations and be more effective than ever, you must simply take charge of your internal dialog and the way you use your body. One of the best discoveries I've found in life is that we can only be happy, content, healthy and live stress free if we learn to accept ourselves and be ourselves. We need to live according to our own wishes, needs, and dreams, not somebody else's. We are constantly conditioned to believe that we can't or shouldn't be, as we feel in our heart that we should be. Statements like, 'You can't do that'' or, 'You should do it this way' have trained us to suppress our own needs and personality, replacing them with foreign characteristics, forced on us by others. When we no longer live according to our own instincts, emotions and inner signals, we become restless and frustrated, which causes incredible stress.

And, while we feel uncomfortable with being something we aren't, we simply don't have the strength or tools necessary to be the person we truly are. Many times we're afraid to be the 'real us' for fear of what others will think. The truth is, we were all created differently; there is no real norm for right or wrong behavior. Another unique factor that aids in the development of long-term friendships in college is the presence of sororities and fraternities. Joining sororities and fraternities in college allows undergraduates to form connections and get involved in social life on campus. Those who decide to rush a sorority or fraternity gain a bonding experience as they go through the recruitment experience. Even if you don't end up pledging to Greek life, you still get the opportunity to meet new people. An underlying organizational premise of Greek life is that you have a de facto family--brothers and sisters of sorts that are able to help you adapt to college life quicker. It's often the case that folks who pledged together during their freshman or sophomore years remain connected well into adulthood. Greek life is just one example of how college students can make friends. College offers opportunities for everyone to find people like them (at least in one way or another). Unlike high school, college provides a variety of opportunities to socialize and better develop your multiple identities. I would even argue that college life is the ideal place for meeting new people and getting a better sense of who you are and who you want to be in the 'real' world. I have a `prayer plant' at home in my bedroom (Maranta leuconeura), which is my personal daily reminder of how to balance work and rest. When the sun sets, the leaves of the plant mark the end of their day by folding together, like hands closed in prayer. Then, in the morning, the leaves unfurl towards the light of the morning sun. When I see the leaves closed in prayer in the evenings, it instantly softens my mind and body as though my natural need to unwind is activated. I hope that in a similar way doing these rituals can help you to make your evenings/night-times into a time of sanctuary, a time to really nourish and restore your inner goddess, so that in the morning you are fully recharged and can rise and shine your light into the world. Evening mealtimes provide a perfect opportunity to remember the practice of gratitude.

Of course, throughout history so many religions, wisdom traditions and cultures have taken a pause before eating to say thanks for the food on the plate. In parts of the Philippines, they even do a little gratitude dance, imitating a rooster scratching the ground. The purpose of these gratitude rituals is simply to help us appreciate our food by taking a little time to think about the incredible journey the food has been on before arriving on our plate. In the modern day, many of us have lost touch with this simple practice of gratitude as our food comes in packages and we usually take for granted the effort and life that brought us this gift. For the next couple of days, conduct an experiment where you dedicate your meditation practice to a particular loved one. This can be any person that you are in a current relationship with (partner, parent, child, sibling or friend). Each day, send loving kindness to that person during your meditation. Whenever you think of the person, visualise them living out their highest potential. Don't tell them that you have chosen them as the focus of your meditation and have no expectation of receiving anything in return. Within 48-72 hours, you can expect to hear from this person. They will reach out to you as they receive your positive energy. You are the sky. everything else--it's just the weather. There are four practices that are vital in the art of creating conscious awareness: meditation, mindfulness, heartfulness and focusing. Eventually, she finds the door, hidden behind tangled growth, and, using the key, she enters the secret garden. It has long been neglected, and is full of tangles and weeds, but she can tell that there are beautiful plants and rose bushes in all the weeds. She decides she is going to tackle its restoration and, to the surprise of the staff, she asks for a set of garden tools. She enlists a local boy who is deeply in touch with the natural world, and secretly they work in the garden. As the garden becomes more and more beautiful she physically blossoms. She loses her spoiled nature.

She gets her cousin into a wheel chair and he comes to the secret garden to help too. In the end, many people are healed by the transformation of the secret garden and by her selfless work. Like the forgotten secret garden in the story, if we have not tended our inner world when we find the key to the door (awareness and personal responsibility) and first enter, we often discover a tangled and confusing environment. The discovery can seem overwhelming; We can then be sure that we have arrived at her deepest sensation. Hand gestures are subconscious, involuntary, and often not even noticed by the individual making them. This is their truth and their beauty. The gestures unself-consciously portray an inner reality. It is, therefore, essential to take time to understand these repetitive gestures. Once we have identified what they denote, our understanding of the person deepens. A thirty-five-year-old woman described her sensation in an asthmatic attack 'as if' something was being tightly twisted in her upper chest, as if she was being choked or strangled. Her description of this sensation evoked a python strangling its prey. Later on in the case she spoke of being hurt when her husband admonished her. When asked to describe the feeling of hurt, she used the word sad, while at the same time her hands clenched and went toward her chest--exactly the same gesture she had used while describing the strangled, twisted feeling she experienced with her asthma. (We aren't talking about criminal behavior! ) It is impossible to set a standard for the 'right' wishes, needs and dreams. Every person has the right to live as they want. They have the right to make mistakes, to develop, mature and develop their own ways of changing their behavior. The most important requirement for real contentment and an optimal quality of life is the recognition that you are as you were meant to be, and therefore you are alright. You are empowered with unique, wonderful talents, possibilities and skills and there is no one like you on earth.