Month: October 2019

Focus

If you’re not looking fear in the eye, then what are you focusing on?  Last week was all about looking fear in the eye, and getting familiar with it.  Click HERE to read. 

“Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently.  So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting, and joyful.  Your life is always moving toward something.” -Ralph Marston

So, where do you want your focus to be? 
In Yoga we talk about the eyes focus as being called dristhi.  However, drishti has a much broader definition than just where we focus our eye balls in any given posture.  Drishti means “view” and “focused gaze”.  This is attributed to where we set our concentration towards in our life.

How do you keep your focus towards your purpose and the things that fill your well?   Because, I am assuming that you want to be reaching for your dreams, moving towards your goals, and nourishing and feeding the things you love to do, while making a difference in the world, even at the smallest day-to-day level.  So, how do you keep your focus?  More on that in a minute.

Drishti is related to pratyahara and dharana, sense withdrawal and concentration, respectively. These things lead to meditation, dhyana, and then absorption, samadhi.

I love drishti’s association with pratyahara particularly because of the scope of what it offers my mind.  When you’re not looking at fear, for example, and giving it your focus, than your awareness needs to be focusing on that which is uplifting, as our opening quotes explains.  Sense withdrawal is not just ‘turning off’ the senses, it means that when you focus to one thing, inevitably your focus is NOT somewhere else!  So keep your focus towards your purpose, and even just discovering more what your purpose is, and let your purpose come from your loves and your talents and your passions!

Here are some suggestions in ways to keep your focus:
-Pause.  Remember the “sacred pause, ” as I call it.  that moment where you connect to Source within your Self.  
-Take a breath.  A deep breath.  
-Remember.  Remember your “why”!  Why do you do what you do?
-Remember.  Remember a Peak Experience of Joy in your life!  I came to realize thru this intention of dristhi, that sometimes what keeps me focused towards my goals and dreams is thru remembering an amazing experience from the past that is related to my future. 
-Prayer.
-Mindset.  Read that blog HERE.
-A support system.  Who are the people in your life that you can turn to in order to reflect back your Light to your Self?!
-Having a teacher, mentor, guru, or coach to support you to keep the focus.
-Your practice! 
-And of course, remembering yourself as you are, as the bearer of Light.  This is to say to remember yourself as the Divine, or however you call it or feel it to be. Enabling your consciousness to remember that your consciousness is God consciousness.

Until next time, stay focused! Namaste.

Fear

“What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear, looking it right in the eye – not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking.  The truth is that when we really begin to do this, we’re going to be continually humbled.” -Pema Chodron

What are you afraid of?  Have you given this thought lately in your life, or is it a place that you try to avoid because looking at your fears causes more fear?  Perhaps the first step in becoming more familiar with fear is to acknowledge fear when it comes up, or to acknowledge the fears you might already have.

I didn’t realize I have so many fears.  This week has been very humbling for me.  Who knew fear could be so humbling, as Pema Chodron states.  And, I’m talking about the feeling of humbled in terms of it causing One to see life as awe inspiring and incredible, miraculous because you are in it; and not in the way that humble might be experienced as causing a feeling of being less than, or small, not worthy.  *Side note: The definition of the verb ‘to be humbled’ is, according to the internet, “lower in dignity or importance.”  But, this is what I am talking to…the fact that you ARE important, but that you are also not the only one who has fears. Perhaps this definition of humble will help, “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.”  Getting the ego out, and letting life in, even fear.

That pose up there, that one you see me in, some of you have seen it before on Instagram and Facebook.  I made a post about it. It’s the pose that inspired a moment in this past Saturdays class that lead to this little story:

 

“I cried in front of my “students” this morning. And that is exactly why I teach. Not to cry, necessarily, but to share. They are my friends, not just students. We share in this practice together, on and off the mat. Don’t worry, I will still guide and support in safety, and impart the knowledge I have learned, but the bigger idea is that we are living life together!

 

They were practicing this pose you see me in with Quinn, parivrtta hasta padangusthasana, revolving head-to-big-toe pose. We were on the second side. Some people stumbled, and I saw that cause others to loose their balance as well.

And then, it hit me as I witnessed this happening….

 

“Perhaps fear is the distraction that’s keeping us from our purpose!”

 

(Just as a neighbor stumbling in the pose might distract us, and then we fall off our balance.]

 

As I spoke those words and realized them, a HUGE welling up inside of my body came because that is exactly the place I am living in my life right now. It’s only my own fears holding me back from acting in bigger ways towards my purpose.

So, yes, the welling up was so strong, the realization hit so impact-fully, and quickly, that inevitably a release happened. And I’m glad it did. I am happy I cried in front of everyone for a moment. Because in that moment it was ALL LOVE! We were all one! Even those sweet people who were new to my teaching style. 😜 We go deep, and we try not to be afraid.”


At face value, what you read here might not seem so “big”.  I’m sure you’ve heard, “don’t let your fear stop you”, or some sort of form of that thought. However, when your in the practice of yoga with others, and when the energy in the room is connected, and something you’ve heard before comes up in a different way, and actually lands for the first time… It’s powerful.  It is Source itself working thru us all.   It is community, it is witnessing, it is sharing, and it IS humbling.  Humbling for me because I was so inspired by my students practices. Humbling because their practicing is what brought about transformation. Humbling because it speaks to EXACTLY where I am in my own life right now!  Maybe you too?!

And for fear to be seen as a distraction makes it begin to feel annoying. Why not leave the fear out, and get on with living your best life!?

I think that’s what Gandhi was getting at when he said, “Live life as if you were going to die tomorrow, learn as if you will live forever.”.  Maybe he is saying, do more of what you love! Thanks, Emily for our chat after class! 😉  Otherwise, we would be on the next flight to Bali! LOL! 

Create the “complete undoing”!  I love this!  Of course I do, read this post around mind set:  http://shawnashakti.com/its-all-in-your-head-or-is-it/ .  I could add to that list of ways to change your mindset, the act of becoming familiar with fear.   And, with this undoing of old ways of thinking, seeing, smelling, tasting, and hearing, let there not be sadness over your perception of wasted time being stuck in life because of fear.  Re-frame that mindset to being grateful for all the events and choices that have brought you to this moment.  And, from here forward, a new way of being is alive in you.  There was not a problem to be solved, nothing needed to be fixed, it was just looking fear in the eye , getting familiar with it, even befriending it, and the undoing happens.  Namaste.

A Moment of Grace

If you haven’t read ‘Rabbits in Your Garden?’, go back, and read it here: http://shawnashakti.com/rabbits-in-your-garden/

This way you will understand the start of this blog.

 

Did you consider what your “Rabbit, or Rabbits” are?  I did.  I have a couple of theme nibbling at my roots to the garden of my heart.  As I looked, something happened.  I started to wonder about others.  As I was becoming curious about other Beings pain and suffering, it made me also more present to my own.  This created a moment of grace.  That age old saying hit me again, “we are all one”.  We are more alike than we think.

 

From that moment of grace, deep gratitude poured in.  The knowledge that we are not alone in our separate lives began to soften me.  It didn’t rid the rabbits from the garden, but there definitely not nibbling right now, and they see the way out.  This gratitude soften my anxiety and worries.

 

And so, I want this invitation of practice to be simple; practice gratitude for your life today.  Parker Palmer writes, “The Spiritual life is about becoming more at home in your own skin.”  He isn’t talking just about your physical form, he also means your life.  He goes on to suggest, says Mark Nepo, “that the aim of all spiritual paths, no matter their origin or the rigors of their practice, is to help us live more fully in the lives we are given.  In this way, whatever comes from a moment’s grace that joins us to our lives and to each other – this is spiritual.”  

 

So, isn’t it fitting then, that Mark Nepo states, “anything that removes what grows between our hearts and the day is spiritual.”  For me, its my babies smiles, my four year old’s laugh, holding my husbands hand, and even catching a smile from a stranger as we pass on the sidewalk.

 

And, yet, I didn’t feel complete with these ideas.  It’s hard to express for me.  I was wondering HOW am I going to invite people in this weeks yoga classes, now last weeks classes, to practice just being grateful for their life?  And, to let it be that simple; not needing to go into your life stories or dreams, but just their life, period.  And, to feel that gratitude in awe within their hearts?  Then, I found it again in Mark Nepo’s book…

 

“Prayer is not asking.  It is a longing of the soul.  It is daily admission of one’s weaknesses…And so, it is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”-Gandhi

 

Mark Neop expands:  “This great spiritual teacher reminds us that prayer of the deepest kind is more a pledge of gratitude for what has already been received than a request or plea for something not yet experienced.  Such an effort refreshes the soul.

  Implicit in Gandhi’s instruction is the need to surrender to our lives here on Earth.  By admitting our weaknesses, we lay down all the masks we show the world and as we do so, what is holy floods in.”

 

As the seasons change here in New York, and more darkness fills the days, let’s be proactive in our practices to support the light in staying present within ourselves.  Like a UV lamp for the soul, practice gratitude!   Let the light pour in! Namaste.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”-Marcel Proust

Mark Nepo expands on this in his book “The Book of Awakening,” by writing about John Travolta’s character in the movie Phenomenon.  John’s character has been trying to keep a rabbit out of his garden because everything seems to always be getting nibbled to nothing.  However, one day he realizes he has been going about this all wrong.  That evening he decides to leave the gate to his garden OPEN, and sits to wait.  Just as he is falling asleep the rabbit scurries out!  Travolta’s character finds he has been trapping the rabbit inside the garden, when he really wanted him out. 

Mark Nepo goes on invite us to inquire within ourselves, the important work and question:

“How often do we barricade and fence up our lives against hurt and loss, thinking we’re keeping the painful things out, when they’re already trapped inside us eating at our roots, and what we really need to do is to open the gate and let them out?”

I love his invited meditation:
“Center yourself, and consider what you are currently trying to keep out of your heart.  It might be a fear of what’s to be, or a memory of what has been, or the truth of a situation you are living right now.
Close your eyes and open the gate to your heart and wait. Breathe and wait.
Breathe slowly and give the rabbit a chance to leave your garden.”

If you feel called to share with me what is leaving your heart, I am here.  Or, perhaps, you know what you wish would leave the garden of your heart, but haven’t been able to get rid of it…breathe and wait; for the only action you are required to do here is open your heart.  Some say that this is the hardest task of all…to leave your heart open! 

And, as I had discovered last week thru using this in my yoga classes, when the gate to the garden of your heart is open, you are also allowing your heart to be able to receive what you need.  Ask boldly and openly for what you need.  The Universe only has the BEST intentions for your life.  Take seeds and plant them! Watch your Self blossom.  Namaste.