Month: March 2022

Yoga Retreat in June 2022 

 

 

In this blog I cover: 

  • The Importance of taking uninterrupted time out for ourselves 
  • What do I mean by ‘coming home to ourselves
  • A call to mine and Liz’s upcoming yoga retreat in June 2022. Click here for details.

Dear self,

 

 

Welcome home. I’ve missed you.

 

 

I know we see each other from time to time, but with so much happening in our life at such a rapid pace it seems  like I see you less so these days.

 

And I get why. There’s such a sense of urgency and stress in the air. Our mind is constantly trying to figure it all out. What do these changes mean for our life? How do we show up and be a good person? Where do we belong in this ever changing world? 

 

*Sigh…* 

 

I understand. It’s a lot. 

 

On top of that we know what helps us feel calmer and more centered, but are often so resistant to give it to ourselves. 

 

We know that being in nature helps us feel rooted; that moving our body helps us process energy that doesn’t have words; and that being with others helps us feel more whole. 

 

But then comes the feelings of guilt and shame. We think it’s “bougie” to do these things for ourselves. We believe others deserve it more than us so that means we shouldn’t have it all. That self-care is for the selfish. 

 

But I must implore you, oh dear self, that this isn’t just “self-care!” And it’s far from selfish…

 

It’s absolutely necessary to be the person you’re meant to be. For when we come home to ourselves, to our True Selves, we are reacquainted with the wisdom we need to be truly helpful to our family, community and world. 

 

We return to the compassionate knowing of our heart and fierce guidance of our Spirit to navigate the trials and tribulations that ensue. We learn how to respond constructively to life’s adversities, instead of reacting and feeding unhealthy cycles. Our emotional palette begins to widen to include more hues of colors, and our own self-awareness fuels a healing service that’s much needed in the world.

 

By coming home to ourself we help our presence be an offering to the world.

I’m so glad you’re choosing to come home.

 

Love,

Your Self

 

I’d like to share a story of a beautiful moment that cracked my heart wide open.  It happened on the playground. This moment is what led to this week’s intention for my yoga classes.

 

Picture her, Quinn, my now three year old daughter. She is sitting at the top of a cute little slide at our nearest playground that’s only 2 minutes walk from our house. She’s a little scared and nervous to go down by herself.

 

Two older girls notice her trepidation. They quickly come over without skipping a beat, and surround her with care, confidence, encouragement, and a whole lot of smiles!

 

I felt an energy of electricity move up through my body. It was the kind of energy that makes you want to jump for joy and clap your hands and say, “You can do it!”

 

I think Quinn didn’t know what to make of her situation! I could see her from the short distance away that I was.  She was taking in this moment, really feeling into the decision she had before her. Her brother was also there supporting her. It was quite a beautiful scene to see Quinn being shown all this support and love from her brother and from these two girls who we did not know at all.

 

The fact that we didn’t know them made the moment even more rich. To take in this scene totally filled my heart with love, hope, and the true belief that living in unity with all others is possible.  Especially when we just want each other to succeed and experience the joy of life!

 

That kind of unity and harmony in life is exactly what I hope for people to remember through practice this week.

To remember that it is possible, we can create it, and when we keep our eyes and our hearts open to it, we come to find that it is everywhere all the time. It’s pulsing through our veins. It’s being pumped throughout our body. And, it is breathed through the very ethers that we all share.

 

And you may wonder what I mean when I say it’s pulsing through our bodies, so I’ll invite you to take a sacred pause here, as I call it. Take a moment to lie down if you can.  Close your eyes. Take some slow calming breaths that allow you to settle into a little bit more peace. And then begin to notice the subtle currents.

 

How does it feel? How do the currents feel? What do you notice about them? Do they feel like a physical tingling? Do they feel even more subtle, more like a knowing of something intuitive? Or perhaps you just noticed a subtle flow and movement that’s unexplainable?

 

In yoga we talk about the subtle body. We talk about this energy and this life force that is flowing through each of us. We call this energy prana. Prana lives in our physical form as much as our consciousness. It is the vibration of life. 

Kathy Oddenino shares:

“This is the motivational force of life. Know the power of unity, as your energy flows with the energy of the universe. Trust in the United energy flowing through your bodies. Feel the inner peace of unity within yourself, and with the souls.”

Prana is everywhere and in everything. It is in each of us. It is in our very breath that we take and give.

 

It is the very breath that allows us to breathe ourselves into the world. It is the very breath that allows us to breathe our own unique creations into the world. And it is the very breath that allows us to sing our own unique song to the world.

As we sing our unique song to the world, each of our voices join in unity to create the vibration of humanity. Harmony and unity is here. Harmony and unity being created is possible. And we can witness harmony and unity when we keep our hearts open.

 

Peter N. Borys, from unity of the heart, wrote:

“The true self in unity with God always emanates from the interior of the heart.”

As you can continue to lie there and to notice your breath, as you can continue to witness the subtle currents within your body and your subtle body, now notice the interior of your heart. 

 

What pulses there, in the interior of your heart? What currents are sharing themselves with you now?

 

Unity comes from a root Latin word ‘unus’ meaning One.  Our hearts truly beat as one. 

 

We are a family. We are each other’s brothers and sisters and beings of connection.  We can be each other’s support, just like the girls to Quinn at the playground.  We can be each other’s reminders of what’s possible within ourselves. We can be each other’s cheerleaders!

 

John W Adams from you and your deaf child writes:

“Family unity requires that each member of the family contribute to the family unit without losing his or her identity.”

I attributed this quote within the families of my own self; body, heart, emotions, psyche, and soul.  I then attributed this quote to my own family, immediate and extended.  And then I attributed this quote to the family of humanity.

 

May we each remember just how important and unique our individual self is within the whole. And may we remember just how whole, and integrated we all are with each other. Maybe we never lose sight of harmony and unity. May we create it. Maybe we see it. May we be it!

 

In unity,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

What do Hanuman’s stories have to offer us? A great deal! Read on…

 

Hanuman has many stories in the Ramayana, one of the ancient Indian texts of Hinduism. 

 

I want to offer a few, brief, little stories that have been meaningful to me. To say they are brief in the context of Hanuman stories, is so true. If you’re in Journey to the Peak, our monthly gathering was all about the stories this month! 

 

Normally we do not record the gathering sessions, but Patrick recited a few of the chapters of Hanuman’s story, and we decided to record. If you’re in Journey to the Peak, I highly recommend you to watch the recording! We might continue doing this in the future, bringing in the stories and going deeper. So, feel free to reach out if Journey to the Peak and sharing stories sounds interesting to you and you want to join!

 

It is my hope that you find something resonant and meaningful from Hanuman’s stories that you can attribute to your life and yourself. It is my hope that as you take in these stories that are only just the top layers, that you allow his stories to remind you of all that is good in you, your life, and in life in general.

 

Let’s begin with Hanuman as a little child…

Born to the God of wind, Vayu, and mother, Anjana, he was born with tremendous power because he was the source of Shiva himself, the Auspicious One(tons more to this story and why he was born a monkey!). Hanuman was born with the name Anjaneya, “son of Anjana”.

 

One morning, as he awoke very hungry, he mistaken the sun to be a very juicy fruit up in the sky, like a mango, and leaped at it. Flying faster and faster into the sky, Indra, The God who ruled over the kingdom of the gods and goddesses, struck down Hanuman and broke his jaw.  Hence Hanuman’s name, “One with the broken jaw”.  

 

Angry and upset, Vayu ceased all the air from flowing. The world was being suffocated of all prana and life force.  

All the gods and goddesses came to Vayu and Anjana offering gifts to Hanuman if they would just bring the air and the winds back!  And it was so, and the winds came back. And Indra had seen his mistake of thinking that Hanuman was being egotistical, but realized that it was just the innocence of childhood.

 

As I take the wisdom from this story into my heart, I feel many things. The overcoming of adversity and even injury, as Hanuman did. The innocence of a child seeking the sun, the ‘fruit’ and that life giving nourishment; and wondering what that experience might have done to Hanuman. I also see the deep support and love he has from his parents. Just like the Universe loves us. 

 

Stories are gateways and mirrors to help us navigate life. 

We can envision Hanuman’s challenges as our own. Hanuman’s joy where we can find joy in our life.  Stories help us reflect on our own circumstances, Self, and where we might want to make change. Stories also become a source for inspiration, empowerment, and reminder of our own meaning and important place in all of life!

 

Can you see yourself as a young child again? 

Can you remember a time when you overcame adversity? 

Do you remember a time where you felt fully supported and taken care of?

Can you remember a time when you were so ‘hungry’ that you did everything in your power to go after your goal?

Can you remember being innocent and open to life?! Curious and excited to ‘taste’ new things?!

 

Perhaps one of the more well-known stories of Hanuman is that in his adult life.

Hanuman had become a devotee to Rama and Sita. I have read that Rama represents Dharma and that Sita represents Love (again, SO much more to the story here than what I can place in a relatively condensed blog!).  

Sita had been kidnapped by Ravana, King of the Demons, and the monkey army that Hanuman was a part of gathered with the bears to go out and seek Sita in support of Rama. Rama and Sita’s love for each other was incomparable, so you can imagine Rama’s devastation. 

 

Standing at the edge of the ocean, The bear God, Jambavan, spoke to Hanuman and reminded him of who he was. Reminding Hanuman that he was the son of the God of the wind, a great monkey, and that he had incredible powers and strengths!  It seems that every time the bear spoke to Hanuman the chains of disbelief in himself, fear and doubt, all began to break! 

 

As Hanuman began to remember who he was, he physically grew and grew and grew!  He leapt over the ocean to go seek out Sita and to drop Rama’s ring in her lap to let her know she would be saved (of course not without trials and tribulations, but again, this blog would become pages and pages long! Google search Hanuman and the Medicine Mountain!! 

 

When did you last fully embody your strengths?

Who was it last that reminded you of how incredible you are?  (Email me, I will do it if no one has recently!)

How will you begin to acknowledge your own Self, your own power, and your own capabilities?!

What are you immensely devoted to?

How do/will you uphold love?

Are you willing to take the leap for love?

Meaning, are you willing to risk your personhood for that which is larger than you?

Can you leap with faith and release fear?

What’s holding you back from taking the leap right now?

 

I could go on, but I will let you sit with this story and these questions here. 

But, before I go, one last story that ties to Hanuman’s childhood story.  

 

A last story here that helped me “see the Light” in devotion to God/Universe…

There came a time in Hanuman’s adult life when he wanted and pleaded with the sun god, Surya, to teach him all that he knew.  Hanuman’s mother told him that Surya was the one to learn from! Surya refused Hanuman. However, Hanuman was persistent. Eventually, impressed with Hanuman’s desire to learn, Surya taught him. 

 

It is said that to thank Surya, Hanuman created the ‘Surya Namaskar’, sun salutation sequence of Asana(physical postures)

 

The beauty that I see in these stories…

What was so revelatory about revisiting some of Hanuman stories at this moment in my life, is the fact that Hanuman was always going after the sun. As a child, mistaking it as a mango fruit, and also as an adult, seeking the sun’s wisdom.

 

To me, the sun here represents all that is good. The sun represents love and God. The sun represents the universal and infinite Light. he beauty that I see in these stories is that Hanuman was always seeking the Light.  He always had his heart and mind set on everything good. He wanted to learn practices in order to create good.  He wanted to be Good and to know God/Universal Consciousness because he was so devoted to Source/God.

 

May you, dear reader, remember that YOU ARE this Light! As bright as the Sun, if not brighter! 

 

Use the Hanuman sloka to remind yourself that you can overcome adversity, you are strong, you can leap with faith for everything good, and you got this!! Chant:

 

“Om Shree Hanumate Namaha” again and again!

 

All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.

 

“But we must leave the seed down in the soil of our mind and not keep digging it up to see if it is growing roots…”

Are you a person who contemplates life’s larger questions with the smaller ones?

Are you a person who is simultaneously wondering what you’re going to have for dinner as much as wondering who you might create a life with?

If you’re like me, You might also wonder how we can actually make a world without war, as much as you are thinking about what time you need to leave your house to go pick up your kids from school!

 

Let me introduce to you something that has created a beautiful blossom within the garden of my mind:

“Store consciousness.”

 

This is what Buddhist psychology calls it.

What is it?…

 

In the recent ‘Tricycle’ Buddhist review magazine for spring of 2022, the article entitled “Trusting the unknown,” written by Kaira Jewel Lingo, she writes about this store consciousness in this way:

“But we must leave the seed down in the soil of our mind and not keep digging it up to see if it is growing roots. It won’t grow that way! It is the same with a deep and troubling question. We ask our deeper consciousness to take care of it and then let go of our thinking and worrying about it. Then in our daily lives we practice calming, resting, and coming home to ourselves in the present moment, and that will help the seed of our question to ripen naturally and authentically. This process cannot be rushed or forced. It may take weeks, months, or years. But we can trust that the seed is “down there,” being tended to by our deeper consciousness, and one day it will sprout into a clear answer.”

What she is alluding to is what her teacher, the late Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, used to say to people who ask him life’s big questions.

 

He would say, “Don’t try to figure out the answer by thinking about it.”

 

Kaira writes that “in thinking over a question again and again, we do not generally arrive at  real wisdom, but we easily tire ourselves out and get even more confused or anxious.”

 

Thich Nhat Hanh suggested to

‘consider this big question as a seed, plant it in the soil of our mind and let it rest there. Our mindfulness practice in our daily lives is the sunshine and water that the seed needs to sprout so that one day it will rise up on its own, in its own time. And then we’ll know the answer to our question without a doubt’.   

To me this blew my mind as well as eased my spirit.

 

To trust and to breathe my question down into the depths of my psyche and soul and to let it rest there in the dirt. To just let it be there while I focus on the day to day, focus on my practices, and just practicing being a good person.

But this letting go process can also be a struggle. Some of life’s questions that we would like to have answered, we want them answered now!

 

When will I find love?

Will I have the career I desire and dream about?

Will war end?

Will my children have a happy life?

 

This reminds me of one of my most favorite Rilke quotes that states, 

“I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer,”

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters To A Young Poet.

So I take a deep breath. I might cry. Or I might feel a sense of release. But then I take another deep breath. And then I might laugh. Or I might take a yoga pose. And then I take another breath and remind myself to trust. And to surrender. And to live inside of my days honoring all that comes up. And all that comes through. And all that I receive and all that I give; that I honor it all.

Kaira actually begins her short article with this beautiful translation by Stephen Mitchell of Lao-tzu’s words:

 

“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”-Lao-tzu (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

 

So what happens when there is nothing more we can do but wondering and worrying? We lay the questions deep into the earth of the garden of our mind, and we go about our days letting the questions be nourished from the focused and loving actions that we’re taking in our daily lives.

 

And what happens when there are things that we can do to support our deeper questions? Then we take loving action, through discipline and intuition and a heart centered space. And even those small actionable steps that we take might not be the full answer to our deeper questions, but those deeper questions are being nourished by our daily actions.

 

And how will we know when the right action arises and we are to take it? We will know because those daily actions of realigning with our heart, are True North, and our authentic Self, will inform us when we see what the action and the answer is. We will see clearly because the ‘water is clear’ and the ‘mud has settled’ because we paused.  Because we stopped worrying about the unknown future.

 

We must trust that we will know what right now is unknown.

 

To stay in an open state with our minds and hearts is our daily practice. To always be in the world with a heart of acceptance for all of life is our daily practice. To invite ourselves to always be so open so that we are receptive and accepting with gratitude for what we have and what Source is providing is our daily practice that nourishes these deeper questions that we plant as seed in our psyche.  

 

Then, through these, and many other practices, we can trust the unknown as Kaira Jewel Lingo titles her article; ‘Trusting the Unknown’. 

 

To invite our self into these ways of being, we can use the Pushpaputa Mudra, The gesture of “handful of flowers”.  It embodies and symbolizes all of the daily practices I just wrote about above.  It represents all of those as well as promoting positive attitude, helping us overcome fear, and promoting that inner spaciousness. It’s no wonder it’s associated with the element of water; to invite us into being fluid and in the flow of life, as well as trusting the flow and surrendering to its movement.  

To do this mudra, cup each of your hands gently and separately.  Then, with palms facing up, bring the two pinky fingers to touch.  Keep the mudra in front of you with relaxed shoulders and dropped elbows.  Breathe.  

 

Perhaps we can make friends with uncertainty and stay open, just like the open psalm of the mudra.

 

What if you made friends with uncertainty?

 

Kaira goes on to write that “It’s hard to find our way if we continue to feed this worry and fear. We can recognize that we are not helping the situation and stop. Returning to this moment, anchoring ourselves in our body, we will find the solidity of the home inside of us, which is capable of helping us find our way, if only we let it, and if we can let go of trying to figure out the future in our heads.”

 

Marcel Proust said “the voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes”.  I have used this quote in the past but inside different contexts. I feel that it fits here again, where we can shift our gaze towards trust and surrender and not needing to know.  We can open up to our beginner’s mind, and see what is just right in front of us. This often leads me down a path that lands me in the blossom of gratitude. That I see all that is within me and all that is around me. That I’m grateful for the people and the things that I have in my life. It lessens the worry of those larger questions that I planted in the soil of my mind earlier. And I come to feel in my body a sense of freedom and in my mind hope and new possibilities.

 

The quote also speaks to making news “eyes”, new ways of seeing and viewing things.  Instead of seeing only worry, questions, concerns, and anxiety, focus the “eyes” towards what is here, what is now, and what is good. 

 

Jack Kornfield reminds us that the 25th principle of Buddhist psychology is to ‘release opinions, free ourself from views, and be open to mystery’.  

 

I returned to the Lao-tzu words and asked myself if I can remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? 

I realized that I’m not literally not moving, but instead I’m moving in ways that are aligned with my heart on a daily basis. And by doing so, I can trust the unknown and I can trust that I will see when that right action arises.  I will know as the mud settles and the water becomes clear. Because as the water becomes clear I can see.  I will have a clear view, clear thinking, clear feeling, clear Knowing.  I will not be swayed by others’ views, societal views, or even my own negative thought views that are not Real.

 

Alan Watts and his book ‘The wisdom of insecurity’ points out that:

“when we are clear and sure about what we are doing, we are less open to the many other possibilities available. But when we let ourselves hang out in the space of not knowing, there is enormous potential and life could unfold in innumerable ways.”  Kaira Jewel Lingo takes off from his words that rather than avoiding and fearing this place of uncertainty that we can embrace it and all its gifts!

She closes her article with this beautiful quote,

“If we can stop, we have the chance to touch into something deeper than feeling overwhelmed. This place of pausing, or stopping, helps the seed of our question to mature and ripen into the guidance and direction we need.”

So plant your seed of a question dear one. Let it settle. Go about your days aligning with your heart so that your seed of a question will be nourished. As you do so, the mud will settle and the water will become clear. Trust that you will see and you will know in that moment of clarity, beauty and Guidance! 

 

All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe. 

 

P.S. How perfect that as I write this, on Wednesday March 2nd, it is the new moon in Pisces. It’s perfect because this new moon invites us to focus on our inner wisdom. It invites us to meditate and to take that pause. It also supports us in releasing views of others and society and to just be nicer to ourselves! And that supports the 25th principle of Buddhist psychology 😉