Month: January 2022

Wu-Wei is a practice of striving less to generate more success

A recent article from ‘psychology today’ caught my eye. It’s about the Wu-Wei Paradox: Striving Less Generates more success. The article, written by a triathlon athlete, talks about the philosophy of wu-wei, or “non action”. Now, I should share with you first of all, that the idea of effortless effort has been on my radar for a few weeks. What does that even mean? How can that even be? Doesn’t anything we want to make happen take effort, even our own thoughts to think in positive ways? Keep reading to find out my take on it.

Consider this definition of wu-wei; “The practice of taking no action that is not in accord with the natural course of the universe”. This definition helped me the most and actually reminded me of last week’s intention around integrity.

When we are living in harmony with our True Self that is the Invisible-Absolute (Universe/Source/God), meaning that we are living in integrity, then we are in harmony with the flow of the Universe. Because you are the Universe, You are actually always living in life’s easeful and loving energy, or flow. It is when we think that things are a mess, difficult, and that life is a struggle, that we are making more effort. When we are making choices and decisions that are out of alignment with our True Nature and out of alignment, therefore, with the natural flow of Universal love for oneself and all beings, we create friction. We create the suffering.

The yogis tell us this time and time again, including in the yoga sutras. In the yoga sutras we come to learn and understand that yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. When we have a more quiet mind, we can hear that unchanging, universal, abiding and loving presence within. We remember that we are whole as we are. We can act in accordance with that place within our heart that is whole, that is unchanging, that is integrity.

This is why the purna mantra has meant so much to me over the years. And I recently discovered that it is the invocation peace chant for the Isa upanishad! Listen to the mantra here.

Swami Paramananda translation of the purna mantra states:
“OM! That (The Invisible-Absolute is whole; whole is this (the visible phenomenal;

From the Invisible Whole comes forth the visible whole. Though the visible whole has come out from that Invisible Whole, yet the Whole remains unaltered.

OM! Peace! Peace! Peace!”
*Invisible-Absolute meaning God, or Universe, or in Daoism and Taoism, the ‘Way’, or “wei”.

The Universal Essence is the Unchanging, that place within our heart is the unchanging place. Everything comes from this Essence. Even those things that are tangible that we can see, come from this Essence. We came forth from this Essence, and we will return to this Essence.

We are made up of the same “stuff” as the stars, moon, mountains, rivers, cosmos, wind, Essence of the Universe/Invisible-Absolute. We are That.
We are the Universe.And because we are That, we are already integrity. We already are ease, goodness, Light, love, and All the words that we use to try to describe this Universal Essence.

So why does life feel hard sometimes? Why does life feel like it’s challenging us sometimes? Why does life feel like it’s only blocking us and creating friction?

Why does life feel like a struggle sometimes?


What a lot of the spiritual texts tell us, including in yoga, is that it is our mind. It is those “fluctuations of the mind”(yoga sutras) that we are trying to cease that are the actions that are not in accordance with the natural course of the universe. Not in wu-wei. Whether we make them up or whether they’ve entered on their own, it is the thoughts that cause us to think, and sometimes even cause us to believe, that life is a struggle.

This is why the 2021 Asian Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology findings, out of the ‘psychology today’ article above, was so fascinating to me. They found that “By not overly involving cerebral cognitive systems, an athlete increases the likelihood of experiencing frictionless flow”. Or, in other words, they were in the zone. They were in the flow!

This reminded me of the ashtanga method of physical practice in yoga.

In the ashtanga method they use the same routine and structure of physical alignments in their series. This is why in my classes this week we are using at the beginning of practice Sun salutations. Sun salutations are sequences of postures that you do repeatedly. Doing these repetitive physical practices that one then becomes familiar with, lends itself to entering into the state of wu-wei, effortless effort.

Another practice that lends itself to being in a state of frictionless flow, effortless effort, and to be “resolutely abiding in a good space,” is to meditate.

To focus on your breath, and to release in your body, and to quietly focus to the flow of the breathing so that less thoughts are present in the minds eye, can help bring about connection to that place in the heart of integrity, that Unchanging Essence, the Invisible-Absolute.

A lot of yogis will also sit in a posture called sukhasana, or easeful pose. Picture someone seated cross-legged, and you have the posture. Sukham means gentle, ease, happy, good. Sukhasana is the easful posture; though some people do not feel at ease seated across leg. This is why we do the physical postures and yoga to help enable our bodies to sit with more ease, with less physical distraction, so that our mind can enter into the space of ease. To support the mind into that place of gentleness and ease, we can use the breath to focus on, or a mantra.

And all of these practices help us to connect to that place within our heart that brings about ease and peace in the moment. And therefore, As we move about our life and our days, helps us to stay in that place of love, ease, happiness, and compassion for ourselves and others.

The yoga sutra 2:46 states, “Sthira Sukham Asanam”.

I love the yoga internationals translation of this that states, “resolutely abide in a good space”. This is what we try to be in every Asana, posture. And I invite us a whole to apply this to our mental space as well.

If we say life is hard, life is hard. If we see life as hard, it will feel hard. But we can choose to make the effort to not see it as such.

Even if we see life as hard, we do not have to become hard ourselves. For it is a choice, which will take some effort, to resolutely and courageously choose to always be seeing the good in life. When we make this effort, we support ourselves in living the effortless, fluid, happy life.

Sthira means “grounded, steadiness, resolute, courageous.”
Sukham means, “gentle, ease, happy, good.”

Stay steady in your happiness.
Be courageous to be good.
Be courageous to be kind.
Get grounded in ease.
Stay steady in your gentleness.


If you want to watch a hilarious clip from the movie, ‘forgetting Sarah Marshall’, That encompasses the philosophy of wu-wei, effortless effort, and Sthira Sukham, then watch HERE (https://youtu.be/PKIpCPS-oZc )!!

In Peace and Ease,
Shawna
Breathe and Believe.


Mark Nepo in his book ‘The Book of Awakening’ wrote a passage on integrity.  This book holds a passage for every day of the year.  He started with a quote from Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man and then expands:

Integrity is the ability to listen to a place inside oneself that doesn’t change, even though the life that carries it may change.”-Rabbi Omer-Man

Much of our journey throughout this book has been about discovering that place inside and cultivating the ability to listen to it, while having compassion for the life that carries it. 


 It moves me to share the story of a troubled man who, exhausted from his suffering and confusion, asked a sage for help. The sage looked deeply into the troubled man and with compassion offered him a choice: “You may have either a map or a boat.”

After looking at the many pilgrims about him, all of whom seemed equally troubled, the confused man said, “I’ll take the boat.”

The sage kissed him on the forehead and said, “go then. You are the boat. Life is to sea.”


As we have discovered so many times, we have everything we need within us. This ability to listen inside is our oldest oar.  You are the boat.”-Mark Nepo


I truly appreciate his little meditation that he offers after this passage that invites us to sit quietly, put down all our maps for the moment, and to let our breath take us safely out to sea.  Then to just breathe gently, bob there and listen.


What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of expectation and future envisioning?

What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of regret and questioning of the past?

What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of design for your hopes and dreams, and just listen?

What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of struggle to get out of stuckness, and just listen?

 

You might wonder what you’re listening to? It’s that place that the Rabbi was speaking to, that place that is unchanging; it is the place of your heart. It is That place that lives and breathes within you that is pure and good.  It is that place within you that is whole, divine, and infinite.  It is that place within your physical heart that is, at best, indescribable.


And yet, when we do listen, we can hear the soft whispers of our soul.


When we do listen, we can hear the voice of wisdom and knowledge that tells us we do in fact have everything we need within us.

I think this is why the man chose the boat. Something in him knew, perhaps beyond the shadow of a doubt, that all he needed was the mode of transportation to get out of the place of suffering.  He knew he could find the way, he just needed to take action on the path of alignment. Something within him knew that if he just listened deeply to his heart and to his knowing that he would find his way out of his confusion. He chose to listen! He put the ‘oar’ in the sea of life.


This is why the Sage and Mark Nepo describe this action of listening and aligning with that unchanging place that lives within our heart as the oldest oar.  It is the listening that is synonymous to placing an oar in the water and moving the boat forward. 

Listening and aligning to that place in our heart that is unchanging within our changing world of our own psyche and our external environments is what moves us out of our own suffering.  


When we get quiet, that place within our heart speaks to us. It is up to us to be dedicated to the place of the heart and to listen to it. To offer ourselves our own devotion to that sacred place within.

 

 I imagine this is why the Sage is still in this place where all these ‘troubled’ pilgrims are. That the sage knows that no matter where he lives, no matter his physical external environment, he has this place within himself that is True Home. This place within his own heart that he has the practices and tools to realign with time and time again. And in aligning, he experiences such peace, rest and ease that nothing troubles him, not even his own thoughts.


Martha Beck states that “what upsets people is not what happens to them, but their thoughts about what happens.” Hmmm, I invite you to ponder this one for a while.


 Integrity by definition is:

-The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

-The state of being whole and undivided

In her book, ‘The Way of Integrity’, Martha Beck describes integrity as “a way of being in harmony with oneself.”

Yoga teaches us that we are whole and complete as we are. Purna, “whole, full.”


How do you get in integrity? 

How do you remember that you are already in integrity?

What are your practices of listening to that place inside yourself that is unchanging?

This next, and last, question is one where I find most challenging living as a human being on planned earth…

How do you uphold your own integrity when making decisions?

 

And yet even as I write that, it seems almost ridiculous. It’s not difficult to uphold our own integrity when making decisions when we ARE making those decisions from the place of wholeness and from the place of the heart.  But here’s where I offer myself, and I offer you dear reader, compassion for us, as we are the vessels that hold this unchanging place within us. 


Oprah said, “Good riddance to decisions that don’t support self-value, self-care, and self-support.” 


I invite you this week to make a decision from the unchanging place within yourself. If you’ve ever signed up for my newsletter you received a PDF of my top 10 ways of how to live a more aligned life.  So, become aligned. Yoga holds many practices of how to connect with that place within our heart. 


Come to any of my classes! And be on the lookout for offerings coming this year that will support you in embodying this place within your heart, connecting to it, listening to it, and living your life in alignment with it.  Because you are That!  Celebrate That within you!


“There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate.” -Robert Brault



All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.

A Somatic Healing therapy to help spiritual seekers, self-growth enthusiasts and heart-centered beings align to their soul’s purpose

ALIGN sessions are the culmination of 18 years of my practices of yoga, Thai massage and life coaching fused into one!

 

I’ve met countless students, clients and friends who’ve confessed about not having clarity about their chosen paths in life, who struggle with self-belief, who find it hard to listen to their heart’s deep wisdoms and make choices that feel right, who feel stuck in some aspects of their lives – be it relationships, career, self-love and are unable to see much progress despite their best efforts. 

It’s human to experience self-doubt, fear, uncertainty, suffering in different phases of our lives and/or in certain aspects of our lives and if you find yourself resonating with any of those experiences described above, know that you are not alone.

 

However, there is a path to getting unstuck.

 

 

Those who are brave and vulnerable enough to face their fears, recognize their needs and take the road towards self-discovery and transformation are seldom held back from discovering the truth of who they are. From that place of intuitive knowing, we can heal ourselves, bring clarity, powerful presence, purpose, peace and bliss into our lives – and in all aspects of our lives.

 

I KNOW you CAN stand steadfast in your Truth when challenges arise! I know you CAN be malleable and flexible while still holding healthful boundaries and upholding your worth!  I BELIEVE in YOUR ability. Period.  Whether it’s your ability to face a fear, a trauma, a hurt, or to face an exciting possibility, an unknown opportunity, I have every faith in you, your heart, and the innate wisdom in your body that you can. Whatever it is you want, you can.

 

As mentioned in my previous blog ‘Without Reflections How Can We See?’ I spoke about the the truth of my work and my life’s purpose, which is to support others in feeling their worth, knowing they have a right to be here, that they are loved and are full of possibility. When you heal, we all heal. When I heal, we all heal. We are all one, one Energy, one Love. I will forever continue to help others heal.

 

 

And with this in mine, I am thrilled to introduce my latest offer ALIGN

 

 

What is ALIGN and who is it meant for?

A.L.I.G.N. is an acronym for:

Alive

Loving

Imagined

Guided

Nurtured

 

 

These sessions are divinely guided.  As I listen to my intuition as well as help others learn how to listen to their intuition and all the many different ways that it can come, what is revealed is the deepest truths from within the client’s heart.

 

In any given session, the client might move through any of the different modalities, and use any of the tools, that I have to offer. With the intention of always coming back to the body and listening deeply to what is in that moment, the client gleans their guiding truths that will lead them to the life that they envision. This supports the client with also laying down the firm foundations of how they will continue to live in ways that will uphold their core values, their true essence, and their authentic self.

 

Through the ALIGN sessions the client learns how to become their own guru, their own coach, their own Guide. Being better able to understand their bodies cues, their bodies emotional intelligence, their hearts deep wisdoms, their intuitive knowings, and deepening their trust within themselves as they strengthen their ability to discern the messages received from mind, body, and heart.

 

 

In any given session, physical movement, guided meditation, breath work, body exploration, and client centered dialogue could happen.

 

 

These are not just private yoga sessions. These are also not just life coaching sessions, though both yoga and life coaching are often used in tandem with the intention of what these align sessions are for. For example, you might be in a physical posture and experience a new physical or emotional sensation that you hadn’t before. In that moment I might invite you to explore that sensation a little more deeply and to just stay open if anything comes up from it, and explore what is revealed.  I will inquire what your intuitive sense is with making a connection in your life today from the experience of the moment, and what that connection might be and what it might mean. From there the possibility of action might come up in the offering and invitation to do some homework.

 

 

What’s Important to Know:

What’s most important is that client enter each session with open mind and open heart. No expectations and no judgements. And, of course, I do the same.  I set myself aside to become a channel for the moment, a space holder, and a mirror to reflect, lovingly challenge, and honor what takes shape in the session. The client may come to the session with a very specific topic to take a look at within their life.  No topic is too small or great. All is welcomed inside these sessions including tears and laughter. I hold space energetically and intentionally, even online. And there may be times that I ask you online to embody the experience of that moment and move in a certain way.

 

 

A typical session may last anywhere from 1 hour to 90 minutes. Sessions may be shorter. Anytime left from one session will be used at the next or to create an entirely different session for a different day.

 

 

Appointments, for now, will be done on Zoom with cameras and sound on. In the future, some appointments may be made in person to add touch therapy, Thai massage therapy, and energetic healing of holding space physically.

 

 

 

 Note: One time session is $155.00 and a 6 package session is $810.00 to be used within 3 months.  I have created a six session package but I’m open to taking on people who I have worked with, or students from the past, who might be willing to explore even a one-off session. I only have opening for one or two more long term clients with the possibility of space opening up in the near future. To know about my prices, please email me at shawnalight@gmail.com.

 

 

How did this all come to be for me?

Faith

 

 

I have been searching for many years how to bring the trilogy of my offerings into one, and when I took the Phoenix rising yoga therapy essentials course in February of 2020, I felt a complete resonance with “the work”.  Michael Lee, the creator of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, and the incredible book “The forgotten Body” by Elissa Cobb, and a mentor that I was divinely guided to find through a private yoga Facebook group for yoga teachers, have been supporting me in this work since that time.

 

I have now worked with a few clients over this past year who have been supportive and trusting of me. Most of them had taken my yoga classes in the past and knew my voice as a teacher and my energy as a person. To them I am grateful. They trusted me diving into this unknown and today I invite anyone who is serious about their own spiritual and personal growth to connect; for we know this helps heal the collective.

 

 

I am excited to step more onto my path as a Spiritual Somatic Healer.  And, trust me, it’s been many years in the making to be able to write that, state that, and now I am stepping into it. And that is what I want for YOU!…

 

 

I invite you to fully be alive. To fully come alive! To be fully living in each moment, prepared with the solid inner foundations because of your dedication to yourself, your Beloveds, and the world, you will be able to stay present.  Able to embody the love that you have with you and carry it into any and every moment of life, no matter what the moment has to hold.

Life is a fluctuation, but you can be steady in your efforts with mind, heart, body, and soul to create your ever evolving balance in your world.  Knowing and being able to discern with your heart, mind, and body, what is the loving choice and path for yourself.  For it starts there, with YOU!

If you are interested please email me at shawnalight@gmail.com

 

All my love and gratitude,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.