Month: December 2020

To Marry One's Soul

As the winter solstice came and went, as the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter came and went, as all these auspicious times of the holidays are coming and going, and as New year’s is upon us…. I want to offer my take on these times right now between the solstice and New year’s.

 

I have been reading the book “Wintering: The power of rest and retreat in difficult times” by Katherine May.  I have been feeling and experiencing my own ‘wintering’ and leaning into it. Moments of anxiety, and other moments of grief. This year, like many others, I have lost a lot; and, I know I am about to lose more because I’ve already been told so.  I’ve lost loved ones to this awful virus, and I’ve lost all the physical spaces that I used to move and “be moved” in.  Along with all of these experiences, is the ongoing experience of uncertainty. Will my husband be back inside his high school teaching come January? Will my son be in his school for kindergarten come January?  What will my own schedule need to look like then? 

 

And, through all of this, and more, there have been brilliant moments of connection. There have been enormous leaps and bounds of change and transformation in very positive and heart opening ways. I am deeply humbled, and grateful, for all of these experiences because it has shown, and ingrained in me, more of what I already knew, and more of what I knew I needed to learn.

 

All of this is to say, I’ve been receiving a lot of advertising emails recently that state the words “I’m ready to put this year behind me”!  And while I don’t find anything wrong with this, it’s not where I am. I don’t want to put it behind me in the context of my learnings. I don’t want to put behind and forget the names of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and so many more.  I don’t want to just simply put behind me the experiences and learnings that I received around racism, history, the country I live in, police brutality, climate change, environmentalism, ageism, sexism, economic disparities, health care inequality, family care inequalities, immigrants, Native Americans, all the people of color, LGBTQ+ rights, womens rights, spiritual bypassing, representation, how business is done, and how business can be done, and so much more.

 

I don’t want to just simply put it behind me,  I want to remember and let it be part of a new foundation from which I grow!

 

I don’t just want the “Light” to swallow everything up. I don’t just want to go around and say “bring in the “Light” and let’s move on”!  Something about that isn’t sitting right with me. What has been more resonant with me lately is the word ‘gentle‘.  Even nature doesn’t switch overnight to having long, summer days right after the winter solstice. Nature has this slow move towards those long days. I recently told a friend that I was grateful for this because then I wouldn’t get “sunburned”; I was speaking metaphorically there. I don’t want to be ‘burned’ by the light, by its brilliance.  I don’t want to be blinded by it.  I don’t want it to burn out all that I have learned, nor burn out all the darkness that I’ve been experiencing in my life.  Nor do I just want to be ‘burned out’, period.

 

I want to be gentle with myself and continue to feel all the feelings that I have been feeling, and just allow the light to come in slowly and incrementally. Breath by breath, step by step, day by day, a little at a time, little fractals and rays at a time, little shards and touches of warmth.  This thought reminded me of two weeks ago in our ‘peace’ intention class; that was the week leading up to, the winter solstice.  Buddha said, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without”.  And so, if I am to experience such peace, and if I have the desire, which I do, to share that peace and shed that light with all who I come in contact with, then I need to start with myself. And in doing so, be gentle with myself. To have the courage to honor all the parts and pieces of my experiences, feelings, and thoughts.  As Mark Nepo supports… to be that dedicated to my own soul as I am dedicated in supporting others souls; I’m paraphrasing.  This brings me to this past week’s intention and passage from Mark Nepo out of his book, “The book of Awakening: having the life you want by being present to the life you have”. 

 

“To Marry One’s Soul”(Nov. 13 passage):

 

“Being true to who we are means carrying our spirit like a candle in the center of our darkness.”

 

“If we are to live without silencing or numbing essential parts of who we are, a vow must be invoked and upheld within oneself. The same commitments we pronounce when embarking on a marriage can be understood internally as a devotion to the care of one’s soul: to having to hold… for better or for worse… in sickness and health… to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

 

This means staying committed to your inner path. This means not separating from yourself when things get tough or confusing. This means accepting and embracing your faults and limitations. It means loving yourself no matter how others see you.  It means cherishing the unchangeable radiance that lives within you, no matter the cuts and bruises along the way. It means binding your life with a solemn pledge to the truth of your soul.

 

It is interesting that the nautical definition of marry is “to join two ropes end to end by interweaving their strands.” To marry one’s soul suggests that we interweave the life of our spirit with the life of our psychology; the life of our heart with the life of our mind; the life of our faith and truth with the life of our doubt and anxiety.  And just as two ropes that are married create a tie that is twice as strong, when we marry our humanness to our spirit, we carry a life that is doubly strong in the world.”

 

Will you join me in making a commitment to yourself this year?  To be gentle with yourself, no matter what?

 

I am considering how I can make this vow more real and concrete.  Maybe even make a plaque and write my own vows to my Self.  Maybe buy myself a ring.  May symbolically tie two ropes together and place them on my alter space.  How might you make a ritual for this bond?  Speak your vows out loud in front of witnesses?  How will you carry this in your heart and thoughts everyday?  

 

So, that’s my take.  Wink, wink. 😉

 

I send you blessings for a truly bountiful new year!  And to allow the Light to come in, as you shine your Light from the inside out!

 

Here is a little meditation that came thru me during these ‘Soul Marrying’ classes:

 

Become quiet, and find a comfortable place to sit or lay down.  Take a few slow, deep breaths to support calming your nervous system and quieting your mind.  Allow, and invite, your physical body to rest.  When ready, close your eyes, or carry a heavy gaze.  Float back into a natural rhythm of breathing.

Begin to imagine a single candle in your mind’s eye.  Watch it’s dancing flame, flickering with life.  Behold its colors of blue, yellow, orange, and white.  Watch the way it moves about.

 

Imagine now, your hands lovingly wrapped around the flame.  Just close enough to feel it’s warmth and life, but not so close that you put it out.  Just close enough that your hands protect it from any winds that might snuff it out, but not so close that you prevent the dance to continue!  

 

This flame is an infinite flame.  It is fueled by everything you love!  It is fueled by everything you cherish.  It is fueled by everything that brings you joy.  

 

As you are nourished, the flame is nourished. Because, this flame is you!  Protect it, love it, allow it to dance, give it room to move, fuel and nourish it well.  Let it Light your path.  Sit with it a bit longer before getting up from your meditation. Write about the experience if you wish.  Repeat it as often as you can.  Hold the candle precious, because you are precious.

 

Love, 
Shawna
Breathe and Believe.

winterscape
Happy Winter Solstice.  I hope you will rest tonight. Cuddle under some blankets with a good book or movie, cup the tea or cocoa between your palms, and sigh deeply, releasing.

 

SPECIAL HOLIDAY SCHEDULE with VERY SPECIAL NEW YEARS DAY COLLAB. CLASS!

-Tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 22nd, classes as usual! 5:15-6pm Moving Meditation thru Mind Body Soul Yoga AND 7-8:15 Relax+Restore, also thru Mind Body Soul Yoga.

-Thursday, Dec. 24th, NO CLASS. Merry Christmas!

-Friday, Dec. 25th, NO CLASS, Merry Christmas!

-Saturday, Dec. 26th, I am subbing the Vinyasa for All Levels thru Bread and Yoga 10-11am!  (My 10:30am-12pm class was cancelled this day, so please join me at 10am!)

-Saturday, Dec. 26th, classes as usual! 1-2:15pm Moving Mediation thru Mind Body Soul Yoga AND 4-5pm Relax+Restore, also thru Mind Body Soul Yoga.

-Tuesday, Dec. 29th, classes as usual!  5:15-6pm Moving Meditation thru Mind Body Soul Yoga, AND 7-8:15pm Relax+Restore, also thru Mind Body Soul Yoga.

-Thursday, Dec. 31st, NO CLASS! Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1st, 2021, SPECIAL NEW YEARS DAY YOGA CLASS WITH ME AND SOUND BATH WITH ANTHONY PURDY, with warm conversation to follow, 10am-12pm!*Details below*

-Friday, January 1st, NO CLASS this evening. Happy New Years Day! 

-Saturday, January 2nd, NO CLASS at 10:30am for Bread and Yoga.

-Saturday, January 2nd, classes as usual! 1-2:15pm Moving Meditation thru Mind Body Soul Yoga, AND 4-5pm Relax+Restore, also thru Mind Body Soul Yoga.


*New Years Day Class that I am leading with Anthony Purdy!  Let go, drop in, move, breathe, and then release. An all levels practice to inspire you into feeling your way into how you want to be for 2021 and beyond.  Bring two pieces of paper and a pen or pencil.  We will move and then flow right into a savasa that will take us into a gorgeous sound bath as created by the amazing musician, Anthony Purdy!  Let the soundscapes take you away on a journey back to your heart.  A little, magical guided meditation will close us, only to open us into connecting space for dialogue, sharing, storytelling, and coming together in community.  10am-12pm thru Bread and Yoga!  I hope to see you there! REGISTER HERE!


NEW CLASS SCHEDULE BEGINS JANUARY 4th! SEE IT BELOW!

ANNOUNCING…2021 WEEKLY YOGA CLASS SCHEDULE STARTING JANUARY 4th!


-Tuesdays 5:15-6pm Moving Meditation (think vinyasa) thru Mind Body Soul Yoga
-Tuesdays 7-8:15pm Relax+Restore (think gentle and restorative) thru Mind Body Soul Yoga
-Fridays 6:30-7:45pm*NEW TIME* Gentle and Restorative thru Bread and Yoga
-Saturdays 10:30am-12pm Vinyasa for All Levels thru Bread and Yoga
-Saturdays 1-2:15pm Moving Medtation thru Mind Body Soul Yoga
-Saturdays 4-5pm Relax+Restore thru Mind Body Soul Yoga
-Sundays 9-10:30am*NEW CLASS* Vigorous Vinyasa thru Bread and Yoga
(I will no longer be teaching Thursday evenings thru Bread and Yoga.)

I am SO grateful you are still practicing with me! I am SO grateful you are still practicing with Mind Body Soul Yoga and Bread and Yoga! I am a member of the Bread and Yoga Co-op that has been forming over the past few months as we transition from single owner into this new incarnation! So, I pray you will continue to support yourself thru this practice of yoga, and continue to support us, your local yoga studios.

And, of course, thank you for supporting me!  I am going to be releasing my own content very soon, so please stay tuned!  It will be yoga, and some will be yogic inspired work to support deeper inner healing. 

And, I will continue to offer the “Manifest Monthly: Yoga Workshops to Help Deepen your Physical Practice While Giving Back”!  We just finished December’s workshop yesterday, and raised over $350 for Maloto!  January’s Manifest Monthly will be to support FeedNYC !  All Manifest Monthly’s happen on the Third Sunday of each month from 11am-12:30pm EST!

Breathe and Believe. And to all, a peaceful winter’s night. 

p.s. I found this amazing photographer who is the creator of the above picture, find them here.

Last week was focused around forgiveness. Read that blog here.  Over the course of last week’s classes, I continually heard myself saying that forgiveness is one pathway to changing one’s “inner design”.  I was speaking specifically to how one thinks.  And so, I wanted to take a deeper dive into that thinking design.  As I continued to process these ideas, they guided me in remembering samskaras. (Isn’t that just perfect, lol! My own mental impressions reminding me of mental impressions, ha!)

Samskaras are our “mental impressions, recollections, or psychological imprints”. -Wikipedia

In Book Two, verse 11, of Patanjali’s ‘Yoga Sutras’, it states that “in an active state, they can be destroyed by meditation”. -Translation by Sri Swami Satchidananda

Yes, your thought patterns and imprints can be destroyed.  And, they can also be nourished!  You see, samskaras are both negative and positive.  

Here is a great article on the samskaras and how they effect us. I drew from it in classes. 
Click here to read.

Here is the way in which I supported people to experience this within themselves during class…

I asked people to think about a positive attribute about their characteristic, a belief they knew to be true. Feel free to try it now!  I invite you to think about the moment in your life where you started thinking positively towards yourself with this belief.  Was it because of an action and experience you lived thru, or a memory of something further back, or just an actionable and conscious shift in the way of thinking towards yourself; what was the moment it started for you? Maybe someone else did something to you; whether negative or positive, for example they reflected back to you your Light? What is the root causation for this belief?  How does it make you feel?  Carry it with you!  Nourish it!  Grow it!  Integrate it into your already existing Greatness!

Now, in class, I invited people to go a little broader. The flip side of the positive. I invited people to consider something negative imprint in their mind field.  And, take the same journey, to get to the root of where this mental imprint came from.  In the sutras it says how this is the eradication of the ego, getting to the root, and pulling it out, like the root of a plant. And how when we take that root out, we see that we are truly not that thought, or that action, or our ego, we are divine (or however you name it) , we are Atman, True Self, soul.

Book Four, verse 25, of the ‘Yoga Sutras’ states, as translated by Sri Swami Satchitananda, “To one who sees the distinction between the mind and the Atman, thoughts of mind as the Atman cease forever.”  What he is saying is something you might have heard within the yoga world at point or another, “I am of my thoughts, but not my thoughts”.  What this means, particularly in association with the samskaras, is that it becomes important to work with your samskaras, and allow that work to ultimately lead you to Self realization in that you are the Divine.  You are more than these thoughts you design, and the thoughts that just come into your mind space, your mind’s screen.  When we get to the root of all our thoughts we find they are baseless.  We begin to eradicate the ego, the smaller self.  

So, as the samskara article asks, “Do you want to emphasize eliminating negative samskaras, or do you want to nourish your mind by creating positive samskaras? Or like the third patient, do you want to do both simultaneously? Most of us fall into the third category. That’s why spiritual practices are designed to help us eliminate our negative samskaras while we simultaneously replace them with positive ones.” -Pandit Rajmani Tigunait

AND NOW…”Forget all you have learned; become a child again.  Then it will be easy to realize that wisdom.” -Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa 
Truly!  To become childlike is to live freely.  This liberation is what we are seeking from our mental mind vibrations that distract us from remembering our True Nature.  Inevitably, thoughts come in, and we can continue to do the work with our samskaras, but then, be child like!  Live in awe and wonder. Let go of judgement.  Love deeply and freely.  Forgive.  Embrace the moment. And love yourself as you are, and everything you are!  You are divine!  

I closed most classes by reading a meditation by Fletcher Lee Johnson, 5 years old, from Tennessee!  Listen at the end of this podcast HERE to hear him!  It’s so amazing it made me cry!

 

Breathe and Believe.

forgiveness

As intuition often works, the persistence of the idea ‘forgiveness’ had been peaking its head into my thoughts over the past couple of weeks. I finally had time to give it some focus and to make it the intention of last week’s yoga classes.  This piece is long, but I believe it to be important. I invite you to read a little and come back, or read it thru completely and then come back again after some time of digestion. 

 

“To eer is human; to forgive, divine.”-Alexander Pope

 

Forgiveness, by definition, is ‘the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven’. To forgive, by definition, is ‘to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake’.

 

As I first started to create the classes for the week, this time I started first with quotes and then journeyed into the embodiment.

 

“Forgiveness isn’t approving what happened. It’s choosing to rise above it.”-Robin Sharma

 

“It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.”-Tyler Perry

 

Very quickly I began to feel how forgiveness and love were the truest of companions.  Very quickly I began to experience how difficult forgiveness can be.  With these feelings, I began to feel clearly that a heart practice would be best, and to use physical postures that would invite the heart to open. I designed the vinyasa classes around the peak pose of camel and upward bow.  These more physically active practices, for me, proved to be a symbiotic embodiment in alignment with the active practice of forgiveness…

 

“Forgiveness is not weak. It takes courage to face and overcome powerfully emotions.”-Desmond Tutu

 

Just within that single quote from Mr. Tutu, I can see how forgiveness calls upon each of us to be in the practice of self-study and self-reflection. In yoga we call that practice svadhyaya.  We must first be willing to acknowledge within our Self what we are feeling.  It happened over the course of the week, in my physical classes that I led, that I started to cue how coming out of poses started first with the breath; then moving the breath into the body, and through that passageway the cognitive connection created, in turn, created the action for the body to physically move. This was so exhilarating and exciting for me to feel in real time because it was yet another embodiment of forgiveness. We first had to start with the “inner design”, We first had to start within our self, and create connections within.  We were creating conscious connections with the body.  And, in looking at forgiveness, we have to first start with a conscious connection to what we are feeling and what we’ve experienced.  From that place, taking a breath, we start a creation of inner design in which we make our self more spacious inside and more open to just be present with what is. In that space,  love will have an opportunity to move into that space.  This might be the most challenging part of forgiveness for some…to start within our self, rather than looking outwardly upon the person or people who have harmed, or hurt us.

 

Pope John Paul II wrote, “Forgiveness is above all a personal choice, a decision of the heart to go against natural instinct to pay back evil with evil”. 

 

There again, we can feel how we need to start with our self. And we need to look into our own heart. We must look into our own heart and remember that our heart is made of love and the strong ability to forgive.  Within the system of the chakras, forgiveness is correlated to the heart center. We must look into our heart and remember that we are divine. Remember Alexander Pope’s quote from earlier. We must first treat ourselves as the divine, and from that place we can remember our worth….

 

Jodi Picoult wrote, “Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying “you’re not important enough to have a stronghold on me”. It’s saying, “you don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future”.

 

I’m reminded of Robin Sharma’s quote from earlier, that forgiveness isn’t approving what happened, it’s choosing to rise above it. As I went through the week and all the classes, I began to speak to how forgiveness is not only not needing to approve what happened, but that forgiveness does not require that we forget either. And that perhaps in some cases, to forget would not be the best thing because there was a lot of learning from the experience.  

 

One of my friends and students sent me this quote from Lily Tomlin, “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past”.  And while at first this seemed sad to me, it also simultaneously felt very freeing and inviting. Especially inviting on the level of just simply letting go. *I want to be careful in this moment when I say ‘letting go’, because this letting go is not meant to be a way of spiritual bypassing, and to just say “oh, let it go and life will be rainbows and stars and unicorns”. No,  Again, you don’t have to forget, but you don’t have to keep reliving it and rehashing it through your thoughts again and again. In yoga we call those Samskaras. 

 

Samskara is a psychological imprint, mental impression, or recollection (wikipedia).  We can have negative recollections and we can have pleasant mental impressions. We can change those imprints. I’m thinking right back to my “inner design” embodiment that came up because of forgiveness. This is not to say we are changing the story of our past, but that, instead, we are not allowing it to pull is down, make us feel unworthy, or worse. Remember Jodi Picoult’s quote.  **Samskaras are what we are diving into this week.**

 

From a place of neutrality, and having forgiven, we can continue on in life in a more freed way. We could even begin to redesign how we want to be, how we want to be living, how we want to be moving forward into the future.

 

Oprah once said, “True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘thank you for that experience’.”

 

How did you feel when you forgave someone?  How did you feel when you were forgiven?

 

And I’m wondering how all of this works when we turn it inwards to forgiving our self? This reminds me deeply of the practice in yoga that is called ahimsa, or non-harming.
May we forgive ourselves for not treating ourselves as anything other than divine.

 

As I write this, I forgive myself for not being a perfect mother. I forgive myself for not being perfect, whatever perfect may mean to me at any given time. I forgive myself for comparing myself to others. I forgive myself if there are grammatical errors in this blog.  I forgive myself for not being an incredible and amazing cook.  I forgive myself for holding expectations that are unreal.  I forgive myself for not treating myself in the best possible ways at all times.  I forgive myself because I am unfolding, I am perfectly imperfect. I forgive myself because I am always learning how to love myself. I forgive myself for thinking negatively to myself more often than I’d like. I forgive myself for the pain I have caused in the past, acknowledging those actions, and learning from them.  Where might you need to forgive yourself today, and how will you show yourself the forgiveness?

 

Here’s a great article on forgiveness in the context of yoga:
https://yogainternational.com/article/view/yogas-guide-to-forgiveness

 

What I know is that forgiveness is a process. Be gentle with yourself today and always.

Love,
Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

I have to do an about face for Decembers “Manifest Monthly: Yoga Workshops to Deepen Your Physical Practice While Giving Back” organization!  And, today is Giving Tuesday, so what better day to announce this deeply meaningful organization to me than today!

For Decembers ‘Manifest Monthly’, we will be giving proceeds to Maloto!  Maloto means “to dream” in the local Malawian language of Tumbuka.

We will use Food Bank of NY for January’s Manifest Monthly, don’t worry! And, thank you for understaning.  Learn more about WHY I did this, in the letter below.

Please register TODAY for Manifest Monthly, December Edition, on Sunday, December 20th, 11am-12:30pm!  We will use the peak pose of Headstand as our inspiration. All you have to do is email me with the subject “Head and Heart”! 

Why is Maloto dear to me?  Because I traveled to Malawi in 2013 and spent time with the kids and women of Maloto.  I have had the honor of holding many conversations with Anna Keys, the founder, and her heartbreaking, yet incredible story for the reason of why Maloto came to be.  And, I just found out that they have a big goal…

 

The goal is to raise $100,000 before December 31st for their Scholarship Fund to offset tuition, room and board for students whose families would not otherwise be able to afford to send their children to school.

 

Our support can have a monumental impact in a country where less than 40% of children attend secondary school, and 1% attend college.  Keep reading and watching to learn more about this incredible organization…

 

Listen HERE to Anna’s story on “Enlighten: Uplift & Inspire” with Dr. Deborah Adamy
*Anna shares the story of attending her fourth sister’s funeral, where many children she didn’t know arrived. She discovered that these children were orphans and showed up because they were starving and they knew there would be food at a funeral. That inspired the beginning of Maloto, a non-profit, community based organization that started out feeding a meal to 20 children once a week, and now feeds 350 children a warm, nutritious meal 3 times a week. Maloto has expanded to include after-school programs, an early childhood class, a primary school and an international secondary academy.

Having just celebrated its 12 year anniversary, Maloto’s mission is to feed, educate and empower the children and women of Malawi.   

Listen HERE to my original podcast with Deb, on “Enlighten: Uplift & Inspire”, to hear me tell the tales from our trip together to Malawi! If you want only my Malawi trip experience, feel free to fast forward to 29 minutes into the podcast. Such heart-opening experiences, to say the least.  

I have been forever touched by those children and women.  They stay with me today, in my heart, mind, and the their language; “I love you” will always come out of my heart when I smile and say it in Tumbuka, “Gokutama Imwe”!  Imagine 40 kids in a HUGE circle, all staring at me, following my silly yoga moves and heart felt dances that would make them laugh, and then all of us chanting back and forth to each other “I love you”, “Gokutama Imwe”, again and again for what felt like forever, and we could have gone on forever! 
*In the pictures above, you see me leading the youngest kids for our closing ceremony performance, my square on the wall inside the auditorium that we help paint and decorate while we were there, me in head dress made by the women for me while with one of the youngest children who arrived each day for a hot meal, and me with one of the women of Kwithu Kitchen prepping a meal.  Kwithu is the C.B.O. ran by the women of Maloto to raise money to feed the kids by growing tomatoes, canning them, and selling them.  All part of Maloto!

If you feel like giving today, on Giving Tuesday, you can donate directly to Maloto HERE.
Or, send me your email registration for “Manifest Monthly” with the subject “Head and Heart”; and then send me your donation for the workshop to either venmo or Zelle; $20 suggested donation.
vemmo: @shawna-emerick
zelle: shawnalight@gmail.com

Thank you (watch the kids say it below!)!! Then, watch Anna Keys speak!

Breathe and Believe.