How do you start your day?
In the first few moments that I wake up, I take a moment or two to check in with myself. I like to wake up slowly and not rush into the day. I roll on my back and offer myself some Reiki. One hand on my heart, one on my belly—in this space is where I begin to dream, plan, and set intentions for the day. I often ask myself—How do I feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually today? And how can I support myself in how I am feeling? Once I am more fully awake I prop myself right up in bed, and begin a 3 to 11 minute mantra meditation. It depends on how much time I have and if I am going to a yoga class later in the day how long I do. And truthfully, I often need the whole morning to answer some of those earlier questions. Some other rituals I do almost daily are tongue scraping, drinking a big mason jar full of warm lemon water, and waking up my kids with a gentle rub or soft kiss. Since my mother passed away almost 6 months ago, I started a tradition of lighting a candle every morning. I honor her in this way—and feel that she is guiding me throughout my day. I truly enjoy a quiet morning, and relish the stillness of these first couple of hours. I always have a nourishing breakfast to fuel my day.
What do you do when you are overwhelmed or stressed?
It truly depends in how well I am taking care of myself. At times I can overexert myself, and I get anxious, frantic, and easily run down. But now I know, these are the signs that I need to slow down, say no, and be gentle with myself. I am more careful with my energy now in my 40s than I have ever been, and I have numerous tools to help with everyday exhaustion. Music, herbal remedies, exercise, deep breathing, essential oils, yoga, and calling a girlfriend help me through that everyday low-grade stress. But when I am truly overwhelmed, I cry—and cry hard. Tears come easily to me, and I find them to be such a beautiful release.
What gives you the feeling of true bliss within?
I have never felt more fully connected to my feminine soul than I have in the past few years. I have a strong desire to not only learn more about myself, but to embody some of the sacred wisdom of all women. In this way, I have become more of myself than ever—which is such a feeling of bliss and liberation. I am more comfortable in my skin. When I am in this space, I can more fully give and receive love, laugh more freely, and nourish myself and others more—all of which give me a feeling of true bliss. I also enjoy a physically exerting myself, whether it be hiking, cycling, or running on a beautiful day. Experiencing new places always lights me up and feeds my gypsy soul.
What are you currently reading?
I read anything and everything that moves me, which means there are stacks of books everywhere. I am often reading several books at a time.
I am in the middle of Circle of Stones—A Woman’s Journey to Herself, by Judith Duerk and The Path of Practice—A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing by Maya Tiwari.
Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie and Miracle Now by Gabrielle Bernstein are at my bedside right now.
I am in the process of obtaining my certification as an Ayurvedic Practitioner, so I love reading all things Ayurveda—especially as it pertains to women’s health and healing.
I also just picked up Goddesses Never Age, by Dr. Northrup. I can’t wait to dive into that one.
I also have 3 or 4 copies of The Pocket Pema Chödrön and her book Awakening Lovingkindness in several places that I can easily access her deep wisdom.
What are you listening to right now?
- I listen to Snatum Kaur almost every single day. Liberation’s Door, Mother’s Blessing, and of course, Ong Namo are some of my favorites of hers.
- Ajeet Kaur–At Temples Door, the whole album
- Nirinjar Kaur–Prem Siri
- I often listen to Jai-jagdessh’s Meditations for Transformation in the morning.
- Ben Howard is also one of my favorite artists.
What is your go-to simple recipe?
Buddha, Abundance, Goddess, whatever you want to call them, I love a big bowl of quinoa, topped with lots of seasonal vegetables, an avocado, microgreens, nuts and/or seed, and a sprinkle of some Nori seaweed. I have an Asian dressing (Zen Love) or Buddha Bowl Dressing on my website, or I top with a dressing from the book Raw Awakenings called Magic Dressing—¼ cup of cashew butter, ¼ cup of water, 2 tablespoons of coconut vinegar, and 1.5 tablespoons of tamari. Blend to deliciousness.
What are some simple things you do for self-care?
Right now, the biggest piece of my self-care is my devotion to my Kundalini yoga practice. I practice 4-5 times per week. Nothing has shifted my energy, expanded my heart, dissolved inner resistance, and helped me safely release pain as this practice has. It has changed how I approach self-care as a whole. Yes, whole food, exercise, and drinking water are important, but true self-care begins within. It starts with our thoughts about ourselves and questioning why we do the things we do.
For many years, I’ve over-exercised and pushed too hard to do everything and be everything to everyone, but I was literally forced to slow down to heal some adrenal and thyroid issues. My body was screaming at me to slow down and nurture myself that I finally had to listen.
Good communication with myself as well as others is essential for self-care. Knowing and expressing our needs is vital.
Other than that, I have a beautiful tribe of healers—who help keep me healthy, sane and supported—everyone from my beloved therapist to my talented massage therapist to a few trustworthy friends, I enjoy several baths with magnesium flakes and essential oils weekly. Water is truly healing. I also rub my feet every night with a blend of warm oil of Tridoshic Shakti (from Saranda Ayurvedic Remedies) and Banyan Botanical’s Vata Oil.
What does nourishment look like to you?
As I’ve become more and more in tune with myself, my thoughts about deep nourishment have evolved as well. I crave time with myself, time with those I love, and time to just be—this space gives me the true nourishment that allows me to love others from a healthy place. Nourishment is about love, pleasure, and freedom that help to create a life we truly love. Spaciousness has also become a very important piece of creating that life.
After many trips to Kripalu—the health and wellness center in the Berkshires of Western MA—I’ve changed my whole house to reflect the peace I’ve felt there. Starting with a bunch of small rocks that I rearranged to spell out the word “LOVE” as you drive down my driveway, to making my home a quiet and comfortable “zen-like” space. I have little altars everywhere to remind me to love and nourish myself.
It’s all about how we feed ourselves—whether it be in food or thought, and asking ourselves are we doing things for our ego or for our soul. It is often surprising to me when I dig deep with this question.
How do you make space for play?
Someone once told me that I must have been born on a sunny day. I loved this, because I am in general a very playful and silly person. I love to laugh and making people laugh. Fun is part of my everyday, but it can often get a little “routined” with three busy kids, so I like to escape to the ocean on a Sunday afternoon or away as a family. My son is now 16, so it’s become so important for us to get away as a family—and enjoy our time together.
What are some favorite mantras you cling to?
I love the written, spoken, and musical word to guide me always. Here are some of my favorites.
“Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” David Whyte—to remind me of my purpose and passion
“Fear is a sure sign that you are relying on your own strength.”—A Course in Miracles, to remind me to seek guidance from a higher power.
“If you can’t see God in All, You can’t see God at all.” Yogi Bhajan—to remind me of compassion for everyone.
“I am emerging, I am expanding. I relax into who I am.”—This is from a recent workshop I did with Meggan Watterson called Reveal.
Wahe Guru—to remind me of the joy and ecstasy that comes in the spaces from darkness to the light.
And seriously, most of what I know of Rumi. I am in awe of how relevant his words are for today’s world.
Please share some words of wisdom you’ve learned as a direct result of soulful and embodied living.
I lead with my heart—always, and it’s taken me to some interesting places. But the last couple of years have brought me to my knees. It was here that I have opened my heart more and found my own inner truth and power. I’ve had to heal and re-define my marriage; I’ve grieved the loss of two brothers and most recently my mother (who was the strongest person I’ve ever known); I’ve had to shed the skin I was comfortable in and remove what wasn’t serving me, including lots of people, to finally confront my own imperfect and broken soul and fall in love with that brokenness. It was here that I’ve learned I am divine. As I see more of my own divinity, I can see it more clearly and fully in others. We are all growing, evolving, and emerging more fully into ourselves. And we need each other, especially as women to support and honor this process in each other. Everyone’s path looks different. Our so-called imperfections makes us truly beautiful and WHOLE. There is no perfection, without imperfection, so embrace it all. And allow what shows up for you to guide your way home.
About Karin Chen
Karin Chen is a wellness warrior and soulful-living coach. She is devoted to educating, empowering, and inspiring women to feel genuine self-acceptance, to feel grounded, to re-connect to the wisdom and power within, and to honor their own unique constitution for true wellness. By supporting each other’s process, she believes in the sacred power of women to deeply nourish and heal our world. As an RN, certified holistic health coach, clinical nutritionist + herbalist, and a devoted yogini, she is currently dedicated to a handful of amazing women, working with them to help them lead more inner-guided lives.
Karin enjoys sharing her insights for the Whole Healthy Woman on her website, www.karinchen.com. If you are a big hearted soul-seeker who is interested in empowered wellness and women’s spirituality, connect with Karin through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Stay tuned for more programs, including small group mentoring, that she has planned for the fall.