burning brain



Do you ever feel like your brain is on fire? We do, especially when we sit down to meditate. That’s why we have devoted an entire section of Yoga Lagniappe to help you put out those fires and cool your mind, while maintaining the fire of your soul. It’s a delicate dance. We would love to hear your suggestions on cultivating stillness and meditation.  Contact us with questions or comments any time.

Create a Vision Board for a Powerful 2014

By Nikki Carter

I first created a vision board in 2009, with my best friend and roommate at the time. I remember spreading out a huge stack of magazines in our living room and sitting with her on the floor for hours, cutting out images and phrases that inspired us. My first board was neatly separated into quarters: Career, Love, Spirit, and Fitness. My friend’s board was more of a hodge-podge of images that she felt inspired by (this also made sense because I am more traditionally organized than she is). It all seemed a little hokey, but we hung our boards in our closets and rarely talked about them until a year later: I vividly remember standing with her and looking at our boards in amazement – every single thing we had posted on the boards had manifested in some way in our lives, even things that seemed impossible! (Yes, Jana, I’m referring to the Phish reunion.)

Since then, I’ve made a board every January except one, and I strongly believe that the process of creating a visual representation of what you want to attract to your life works in ways we may not fully understand. I highly recommend you create one for yourself this year and see what changes and opportunities come your way.

This year, my friend and I co-hosted a “Vision Board Party” and it was a great time!

While I usually undertake this process alone or with a close friend, this year I participated in a “vision board party” in which a group of us got together and had wine and snacks while we created our boards. It was a lot of fun and something I hope we can make an annual tradition. I tell you that in order to say, I don’t think there are hard and fast rules for how to go about this process.

Here is what generally works for me:

1. Things I use: posterboard/canvas/construction paper; scissors; lots of magazines; tape/glue. I’ve also seen girls paint their boards, glitter them, and otherwise decorate them in any texture or manner that they find inspiring.

2. I find a picture of myself, usually from the year that just ended, in which I look happy or that I associate with a happy time. I have it printed and start my vision board with this picture in the center, so I can tape all of the images and quotes around myself. This is totally optional, but I think it helps me to imagine myself at the center of all the positive thoughts and graphics I choose for that year’s board.

Aja chose a photo of her and her husband to use as the center of her vision board

3. Before I start, I like to revisit my resolutions/goals for the year to make sure I have those in mind while I’m looking through images. For example, this year I want to learn how to do an inversion, so I wanted to be sure to look out for those images in yoga magazines and catalogs.

4. Now, the fun part: I go through my magazines and cut out anything that speaks to me or reminds me of my goals. I challenge you to think with your heart, not your head – anyone can cut out a picture of a nice car or attractive partner, but what really excites you at a core level? I’m always surprised by the things that I am drawn to: this year, I was really attracted to images of butterflies, which I think of as a symbol of growth, so I included a picture of a girl with a butterfly resting on her finger. It reminds me that the journey to my higher Self is continuous. Sometimes I will also write quotes or passages I’m particularly attached to and tape them on my board.

Note: don’t censor yourself because you think something is impossible or nonsensical. You can and should dream big.Try not to put restrictions on what you think you “should” or “shouldn’t” include on your board. 

5. When you’re done, you’ll probably want to display your board. The first couple of times, I kept my board in a hidden location where only I could see it occasionally, but this year I decided to hang it on my wall so I see it every day on my way out the door. I’ve heard opinions from both camps: some say you should hide it, forget about it, and let it do its thing, while others say you should revisit it often. As usual, I say: do whatever feels right for you. Nothing is going to work if you don’t feel good about it.

Some of our finished boards!

Most importantly, avoid overthinking the process! This should be fun. The whole point is to feel really good and positive about the process of creating your board. You deserve all of the good things in the world, and your vision board should remind you of that and hopefully help you see that you truly can do anything you want. I firmly believe when you put these types of “signals” into the universe, your world will shift to help deliver that which you are asking for.

Remember: You are amazing! I hope that you will try making a vision board for this year and I would love to hear how it works out for you. I’ll leave you with a quote from my board this year:

“I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it.”  -Rita Mae Brown

xo, Nikki

Book Review of Buddha’s Brain
By Brooke Bailey

Title: Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom
Authors: Rick Hanson, Ph.D. with Richard Medndius, MD

Since I began practicing yoga I’ve had an interest in understanding how and why it has such a positive effect on my life compared to other forms of exercise or relaxation. While I now have a clear understanding that asanas (yoga poses) in and of themselves can only take you so far in your practice of yoga, I still find myself intrigued by exactly how moving your body in and out of yoga poses, working with your breath and prana in pranayama exercises, along with focusing and stilling your mind through meditation can actually change your perception of the world and help your life flow more smoothly.

When I stumbled upon Buddha’s Brain in Maple Street books I was naturally drawn to its combination approach of using neuroscience, psychology, and Buddhist contemplative practice to help the layman understand how the mind can change the brain. While this isn’t a book focused on the science of yoga, it does shed light onto how  the brain changes through practices that are similar to many yoga techniques.

The first part of the book lays the groundwork in very simple terms for the reader to understand the mind, brain, nervous system and endocrine system. While some of this isn’t exactly written in a way that makes you want to stay up all night until you get to the end, it is very useful information in helping the average person understand what is happening in the body when thoughts and feelings arise.

The book goes on to focus on three main areas: happiness, love, and wisdom. Contemplative and meditative practices are interspersed throughout to give the reader an opportunity to practice the concepts that are backed up by scientific knowledge and research. Each chapter ends with a bulleted “key points” section which allows for a quick review of the highlights of that section.

In short if you have an interest in learning why you feel so good after you practice yoga and how you can cultivate more of this content state in your daily life, Buddha’s Brain can help you recognize that mindful practice creates happiness, love, wisdom and an understanding of your true nature.


Local Area Meditation Classes and Groups

Awakening New Orleans
Mondays 6:00-7:30p.m.
Consciousness raising meditation and deeksha
Donations accepted to cover space rental
Bodhisattva Tea Spa
3021 N. Arnoult Rd.
Metairie, LA
Contact: Susan (724) 312-1580

Also at Bodhisattva Tea Spa
Sunday Class at 10:45am, By Donation
3021 N. Arnoult Rd.
Metairie, LA
Contact: (504) 888-9299

New Orleans
Bayou St. John
Art of Living Guided Meditation Group
No charge
Saturdays 2:30-3:30p.m.
Fairgrinds Coffee House
3133 Ponce de Leon
New Orleans, LA
Contact: Allen (504) 247-6692

Vipassana (Insight) Meditation & Discussion Group
Donation Based
Wednesdays 7:00-8:30p.m.
New Orleans Healing Center
2372 St. Claude Ave., 4th Fl.
New Orleans, LA
Contact: (504) 905-4090

Mid-City Zen
Daily meditation sessions
Donations appreciated
3156 Toulouse Street
New Orleans, LA

Sitting Meditation Group
Saturdays 10:00-11:00a.m
3909 Bienville St. Ste. 103
New Orleans, LA
Contact: Brian (504) 644-7351

Lower Garden District
Awakening New Orleans
Consciousness raising meditation, deeksha + potluck
Donations accepted to cover space rental
Sundays 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
First hour meditation, second hour potluck community time.
Please bring a Vegetarian dish to share; no meat, fish or alcohol.
Divine Yoga
1228 O.C. Haley Blvd.(enter through door on right, 2nd Fl.)
New Orleans, LA

Insight Meditation Group
No Charge, Donations Gratefully Accepted
Tuesdays 7:30-9:00p.m.
2134 Magazine Street, 3rd Fl.
New Orleans, LA 70115
Thursdays 8:00-9:00a.m.
Life Yoga Studio
5422 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Contact: Larry (504) 343-8378

Unity Powerpath Healing Circle & Meditation
Sundays 9:00-10:00a.m., No Charge
3722 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA
Contact: Mike Wittenbrink (504) 339-0594

Uptown Holistic Center
Mondays 5:00-6:30p.m.
723 Hillary St.
New Orleans, LA
Contact: Dr. Jess Tregle (504) 352-6418


Meditation Resources

What is mediation (according to Wikipedia…)?

Insight Meditation Society

Want a mainstream approach to meditation? Try Headspace’s Free “Take 10″ App


Cultivating Stillness

We received a beautiful submission from Theresa, a yoga student in New Orleans, that we wanted to share with you.

“Here are my thoughts on cultivating stillness:
It’s all about my mat. My mat is my refuge. Not my escape, but my refuge, my safe place. When I’m on my mat, I’m there, no where else but there. I can focus on the moment, listen to my breath, feel my body and be aware. I don’t have to plan anything, answer any questions, talk, or worry about the past. If I want to take it easy, I can. If I want to push hard, I can. It’s all about the moment. The more time I spend on the mat, the more I am able to take that experience off the mat into ‘real’ life. It’s all about my mat.”

If this doesn’t make you want to practice yoga and meditation, we’re not sure what will. Thank you Theresa.