Trying Something New: Meditation

I'm shocking my own system by writing this post because about a year ago meditation meant as much to me as a bag of low-calorie chips: meaningless. Over the last so many months, I have truly understood the value of self-care and now actively make time to do things that take care of my mind and body (there is no such thing as 'finding time', you have to create it).

I started getting curious about meditation a few months ago and kept telling Nabeel I wanted to try it but because I'm a professional procrastinator, I kept putting it off. Last month, after getting back from the US, I felt so all over the place. Exhausting trip, exhausting work prior to the trip, with absolutely no time for myself had turned me part-time pyscho. I knew it was time to try this meditation thing out. I had to do something new with my routine to really sort things out.


So one fine morning, before getting down to breakfast, I made myself some green tea, pulled out a cushion and put myself down for my first ever meditation session. I did about 4 minutes and when I emerged from this elevated state of mindfulness, I realised the skies hadn't parted and the clouds looked the same and I basically didn't feel any different. But I promised myself to do this again the next day.


Day two, day three, pretty much felt the same. Day four, I woke up and found myself looking forward to my meditation session so I lit a candle in honor of this emotion. Day five, I even sprayed some mist for some additional sex appeal. One week down and I was on my way to falling in love with meditation.

Early mornings do something for my soul that no other part of the day can do. Adding meditation into my morning routine has step changed the game like nothing else. It's so simple but so powerful and COMPLETELY sorts your brain out. And I've been doing it for only about three weeks.

So despite initially thinking, I wouldn't talk about this on the blog (which is why no one saw anything related to it on Snapchat as well), I decided to share this new love of mine with you guys because 1) We're friends, 2) Maybe some of you will join me and we can do this brilliant thing together 3) Possibly get tips from those of you who already do it. All good reasons.


Last weekend, I took some extra time to create a sexy spot for my meditation. It took me ten minutes to put this together for something I was going to execute for just about the same time, but it was totally worth it. I was buzzing to get started. (I like investing time in setting things up for myself; I realise I have a problem but I also have zero regrets, lulz).

So anyhoo, now I think I'll just talk to you about what I know and do and where I want to hopefully take this as I grow.


WHAT IS MEDITATION?
I don't know the correct, proper definition, you can always google that. To me it's just a tiny bit of time set aside for myself where I simply let my mind be and focus on thinking about nothing.

HOW DO I DO IT?
1. Find myself a comfortable spot with a cushion. Sit on it (very important). I like sitting at the same spot everyday, in my living room, next to the window.
2. Put on a gentle timer for 10 minutes. Nothing that sounds like I'm at an underground rock band's first public performance.
3. Sit upright, spine straight, close my eyes, clear out my head and focus on my breathing (in, out, in, out). There are a bunch of ways you can clear your head. Since I'm at beginner level, I chose to focus on my breathing because it felt like the easiest thing that I could keep my mind on instead of thinking about stuff like aaloo gosht or baingan (my mind has a lot of space for romantic thoughts about food).
4. Do this for ten minutes, finish up and get going with my day.



ACCESSORISING MY SESSION
I like some disco in everything I do so once I realised I was enjoying this, I added things to the mix to make it awesome in a holistic way. I light a candle, turn on my diffuser, spray some of my bed mist.

On a side note, I'm so lame that I specifically picked the bed mist I have from the Sakura collection at Rituals (I have many of their bed mists, lulz) because it's based on the annual Cherry Blossom flowering in Japan. Cherry Blossoms bloom for a short amount of time every year so the collection is symbolic for the fact that beauty is momentary and you should enjoy everyday. So in my head I imagine doing meditation as a new thing for myself and enjoying simple things in my everyday life, matching with my product choices. Wow, I'm pretty lame. But it totally works for me, you guys, I can't help it. Hashtag no judgments. (Also, I totally want to go to Japan for the Cherry Blossom flowering one day)


WHERE DO I WANT TO TAKE THIS?
I want to explore this more so I have some to-do items on my meditation agenda.

1. Create a dedicated space to do this everyday. After the fancy setup I did last weekend, I really want to create a spot that stays forever. But I have limited space in the house, so I'm confused about where to do this. Going to try and fit this into my guest room/partial studio when I get around to setting it up.

2. Explore guided meditation. There are actually people you can list to and meditate to different messages/content. If you guys have any kickass recos, let me know (nothing too long though).

3. Get Nabeel to try it. (Nabeel, if you're reading this, I feel your pain but you should have chosen your life partner with due diligence)

4. Take a meditation class somewhere. Any recos, send my way, bros.


IF YOU WANT TO GIVE MEDITATION A SHOT, HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS


1. It feels SO good to meditate. My head has never felt clearer. I never want to give it up.

2. Start with even a couple of minutes and bring your mind back each time it wanders. No one drops weight the first day at the gym, you can't possibly feel the effects of meditation on your first round.

2. If you think you're too busy and can never find the time for this, read this piece by a super busy mom. I loved it.

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Product Resources
Candle, Bed Mist & Diffuser: Rituals (The Sakura Collection right here) / Plants, Sheepskin: IKEA / Books: DIY, see here

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Thazzz it. Hope we can talk more on the blog sometime again, about this absolutely beautiful thing I've found. Until next time.


Building My Skincare Routine: Double Cleansing

One of the questions I get the most, particularly on Snap, is about my skin routine. I totally get it, because I love finding out what someone's using in their everyday skincare too. I wish I had an efficient and elaborate set of steps to share but up until a year ago, my routine pretty much included soap and moisturizer. However, over the last year or so, I've understood the importance of good, healthy skin and I've been trying to focus on good skincare versus expensive or too many makeup products. 

About a year ago, I started experimenting (very lightly) with things to add to my routine and find a set of trustworthy products that would take care of my skin for me. I also started reading up about the science of skin as well as tried to understand why Korean skincare is considered such a big deal (don't worry, I'm not going full-throttle Korean on you, but I wanted to know what's the difference and why).

As I try products, I've decided to build a healthy skincare routine with you guys and share each step as I develop it. I've starting right from the beginning - with cleansing - and sharing the first product that I love and trust and will restock.

At this point, I do want to point something out: I've been getting skincare products for reviews since the last one and a half year or so. I have so far not shared ANY of these with you because I did not find them to be absolutely wow (no moisturizers, no serums, I haven't talked about any of these despite having used quite a few). It's cost me relationships with a couple of brands too who didn't want to send me any more product but that's alright (they were new relationships so I understand if they didn't get my ethic). I'm putting this out there because there's so much noise around skincare with people talking about a billion products and you don't know who to trust. (Any skin product requires consistent usage of 2-3 months to see results anyway, so anyone who reports feedback in just a few days is stretching)

Wow, that was long ass perspective. Let's begin?


But first, my skin type: Normal. Not dry, not oily. Not sensitive.

When I decided to start building my skincare routine properly, the first thing I knew I wanted to get was the right cleanser. Removing my makeup at night has proven to be one of the biggest gamechangers in making my skin look healthy and bright. The nights I'd go to sleep with my makeup on or poorly taken off (thanks but no thanks face wipes), I could tell the crapfest on my face the entire next day.

I read a lot about what's the best thing to get your makeup off your face and I also hardcore investigated what Korean skincare steps rely on for cleansing. The answer: Double Cleansing.

What is double cleansing? You first get your face all scrubbed and squeaky clean by removing all makeup, grime, blah blah from your face. You then follow it up with a second cleansing to actually deep clean your skin and get it all ready for applying products like serums and moisturisers.

Does it work? For me, YES. I used to double cleanse on and off anyway without realizing there was such a thing and that I was applying it. But ever since my trip back from the US (where I exhausted my skin to no end), I read up about it properly and started doing it religiously and my skin literally bounced back in just about a couple of weeks. It sounds painfully long like you're going on a pilgrimage but when you get used to it, it takes about a couple of minutes only. Cleansing properly is the way to go.

When do I do it? I double cleanse only at night as the first step in my skincare routine. In the morning, I cleanse one time only.

How do I do it? I use a cleansing oil and then follow it up with a facewash.


Cleansing oils are not for oily skin? Cleansing oils are for all skin types and contrary to what a lot of people believe, using oils on oily skin does not make it crazier. Correctly formulated cleansing oils work with the natural oils on your skin to grab onto the dirt/makeup and get it all off. They don't sink into the pores. Products that strip your face of your natural oils end up making your skin oilier in the long run. You can read more in detail here 

Why don't I use other removers/cleaners like miscellar water, face wipes?
I know the world is going nuts over cleansing waters these days and they probably work just fine too. Face wipes remove makeup okay as well but here are my reasons for staying away from them:

1. I wanted to move to a solution that didn't require dragging cotton pads across my face. Both cleansing waters and face wipes require tugging, particularly around the eye area. I'm not saying they do crazy damage, I just didn't want them for myself. I've used them, I prefer to not continue.  

2. Cleansing waters don't really clean especially if you don't double cleanse. I'm always wary when there's too much hoohaa about a product and people are dropping their pants for it, so I read up about cleansing waters carefully. They probably work for you and I think they're great options once in a while, but I don't feel like they're good long-term solution for good ageing and health of your skin. I could be wrong, but that's my current opinion. You can read more here and here. If you're insistent on using cleansing waters or wipes, then make sure you double cleanse.

3. When I was reading up about Korean skincare, I saw that they stress on double cleansing and use an oil cleanser as the first step. Since I like parts of the Korean routine and want to adapt the bits that make sense to me, I decided to check out cleansing oils, which is how I ended up getting it in the first place.

The product I'm using and love: Dermalogica PreCleanse

What is it: A cleansing oil to use before your everyday cleanser to get all your makeup, dirt, buildup-of-the-day off. It's formulated with natural oils - olive oil which is perfect for sensitive skin and plant oils which are perfect for oily skin.


How do I use it (the instructions are on the back of the bottle)
1. Without wetting hands or face, take a couple of pumps of the PreCleanse in the palm of my hand.
2. Rub all over my face in round motions for about 30 seconds. You practically see the makeup melting off. I smoothly rub this into my eyes too (you don't feel a thing) and it gets ALL eye makeup off in seconds.
3. Take a tiny bit of water in my hand and rub on my face while the PreCleanse is still on. It will emulsify into a milky liquid. Rub some more and then wash off.
4. Follow it up with a facewash (but I haven't found my dream facewash yet so I'll post on that later)

What I love
1. Gets ALL makeup off in seconds. I tested post washing with face wipes and cotton swabs for a few days but there was NOTHING that came off after. It's brilliant.
2. Leaves your face soft and moisturized. No oily feeling (that I used to have sometimes with natural coconut oil when I was using it). My face isn't dry and it isn't oily.
3. Non-comedogenic. Which means even though it's an oil cleanser, it does not block pores.
4. No greasy eyes. No blurry vision. 
5. Super quick to use. 

Cons
Slightly pricey at 180 aed per bottle but I've read extensively that it lasts you for 2-3 months so I'm okay with that. Will continue to buy despite this pricepoint.


Can't I just use a natural oil like coconut oil to do this? I'm pretty sure you can. In fact, I used coconut oil for a few months to get my makeup off every night and it worked like a charm. However, it felt time-consuming, messy and the oil would always stick hardcore to my eyelashes making my vision slightly blurry (so hard to read in bed later). And it made me feel like cleaning my face was a hassle so I just couldn't keep up. I won't go back to this method even though it used to work well.

Can't I use baby oil? Baby oil is a good oil but not a good cleansing oil. It has petroleum based ingredients which block pores. This PreCleanse by Dermalogica is based on plant oils.

Verdict
I love it. I'll definitely restock and continue to use (unless I find a cleansing oil which is just as great and less expensive). I really, really enjoy this product and actually look forward to getting my face clean ever since I started using it.

What should you do after this very long post?
Whatever your skin type, try out an oil cleanser at least once. One that is non-comedogenic (doesn't block pores), is gentle and uses natural ingredients, like the PreCleanse I'm using. Also, try out the double cleansing method and take the time to clean out your skin at the end of a day to not just get rid of the dirt/makeup but also to make sure it can absorb products better and give faster results (your expensive face serum should work better if your skin is clean and receptive).

At the end of the day, the same product cannot work for everyone. You try out a few products and find what works best for you.

I got my Dermalogica PreCleanse from Basharacare right here.

This was my opinion. Now you tell me what you use for cleansing, what do you love about it, etc. Let us share.


Phulkari

I bought this phulkari dupatta from a place which will forever remain one of the most memorable cities I've ever visited: Bahawalpur. The shop I got this from was overflowing with color in fabric of all kinds. There were stacks of phulkari lined against one wall, from floor to ceiling, and choosing just one out of all that magic can safely be categorized as one of the toughest decisions of my life. I picked the yellow/lime green (I'm convinced that I'm partially color blind because I'm always calling wrong names for some shades) because it's one color I can never get sick of. The dupatta reminds me of Bahawalpur every time I see it and I love that. I've worn it a bunch of different ways since I got it; for this post I did some khichri of east-west fusion type which is my favorite kind of khichri and am hoping you like it.

All outfit details are right under the image below. You can find phulkari dupattas online here, my sister runs this page and posts each time there's new stock. I don't know about the quality of the product though because I haven't seen it but it looks good.


Dupatta: From Bahawalpur (you can see shopping details here) / Shirt: Shein / Jeans: Gap / Khussas: Chapter 13 / Bag: Shein (buy here) / Earrings: Blue Souq in Sharjah / Rings: Nepal (Index finger), Blue Souq in Sharjah (Middle finger), By Lady Mauve (Ring finger) / Watch: My dad's very old watch / Lipcolor: Sweet Touch 904 / Nailcolor: Maybelline Color Show in Blackout 677.










Until next time.

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+ You can check out my Bahawalpur shopping post right here for details on what all you can find and where to go.

+ + I once styled another phulkari stole I have, you can check it out here.


Kick-Butt Buy Of The Week: Handpainted Cushions by Karafuru

Oh hey, awesome cushions that I must have immediately.

I instantly fell in love with these super quirky cushions by Karafuru that you, me and our friends need to have urgently. They're beautifully handpainted and have people doing all kinds of everyday stuff on them: hanging on a bench, sipping chai, having cake and making it all look awesome (although the ones I've posted above are only of pretty womanz with flowers in their hair, sorry about that). They're priced at PKR 4000 and up, which is steep for a cushion, but then again, they're handpainted and SO well-done, I think they can be justified for a one-time purchase (you can do more, no problemz). Or you have the option of blackmailing friends to purchase them for you and/or stealing (don't listen to everything I say).

I also think they'll make excellent gifts for a friend's wedding/anniversary - custom couple design type stuff.

Karafuru doesn't do only the woman-in-a-sari design. There a bunch of others, you can check them all out here. I especially love this one of the girl having cake and this one with the woman on the phone. And if you don't want humans, then this sheep one's cool too.

You can order your cushion on Karafuru's Facebook page here or shop instantly at Polly & Other Stories right here.

Until next time.

Fridays

Current love-of-my-life bag (we're already in a deep, committed relationship). It came my way this week from Shein, you can get it for yourself here. This weekend, I'll be meeting up with Shehla and Faraz who're back from their mini vacation, sort out some stuff at home and finish the book I'm reading. I'm hardcore channeling my introvert mode these days so I'm hoping no one tries to talk to me, lulz. 

(A tiny note about this jade blue bag above: the last time I posted something from Shein, it sold out immediately, so if you want this one, please get it now. It's a low price point so it sells fast; some of you were disappointed the last time, so I'm giving a headsup). 


Restocked some makeup supplies this week: Urban Decay's All-nighter makeup setting spray that I use primarily on my eyes so my eyeliner doesn't move (for days that I know I'll be out for long) and oxygen-level essential, the beauty blender


Color for the weekend/until-it-comes-off-on-its-own: Bourjois 1 Seconde in 09 Lavande.


Made small sort-of DIY gifts that I'll be handing out this weekend. After re-falling in love pretty hard with my clay mask, I wanted to share it with some friends so I bought a couple of packs, split them up in these jars from Daiso, added small notes (that I wrote after taking the picture), and finished with one of my life's favorite crafting supplies: twine.


A US House Of Representatives pin from my brother-in-law that instantly became a fave. I love pins in general and this one gets some extra space in my heart.

If anything brightened your week or there's something you're looking forward to for the weekend, I'd love to know. Have a great weekend, you guys.

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+ Buy the jade blue fringe hem bag in the top image here.

+ + Check out the clay mask I'm gifting my friends right here.