Month: April 2022

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This past week I was away in California.  In my own way, it was a little rebirth. I was able to dip my feet and hands in the cold Pacific Ocean.

 

To dip myself in the ocean is always a sort of baptism to me. I get to touch the water of the Mother. I get to be cooled, calmed, and reassured of my place in all things. I am connected to a vastness that I cannot describe and at the same time I feel infinitely small. It’s not a sad thing.  It’s a beautiful thing. A gratitude that I get to be here. And in this moment, all disappears. 

 

Then my kids’ hug attacked me with love! Oh, the joy. Their faces were bright with desire to shed their shoes too; a mother’s opportunity to say “YES”!  Live! Enjoy! Have fun! 

 

As they start to draw in the sand my husband, Geoffrey, says “now”. I do it! Handstand of course! What else would I do on an open beach in California with my family and hobby photographer husband around?! Lol!

 

Rebirth is such an interesting idea to me. 

 

Does rebirth mean that we start all over again with nothing?

 

What would you keep with you, if you knew you could bring things with you, in the next design of your Self? Notice I did not say die and be reborn.  Mmmmm. Maybe you are in a time of metamorphosis?

 

What would you drop right now? 

 

Anyway, just some journaling prompts for your weekly inner reflections. 😉

I loved how Janey Colbourne wrote it in her poem, ‘Alchemy’:

This is what they mean by turning lead into gold.

All the pain, the anger, doubt and fear.

All the suffering that weighed me down.

I look them in the eye.

My pen is my sword

and with it I pinned them to the page.

The page is my cauldron

where I stir until what comes out

is transformed, purified, reborn.

As I bring it forth

it’s light is so bright,

it is blinding.

 

 

I invited my friends and students to imagine that the mat was like her cauldron. And that with each movement we were stirring things, transforming all things. 

 

And that is what we do on the yoga mat. We transform. We are transformed. And we can transform. We are purified and reborn.

 

Are very breaths is an embodiment of this reminder in each moment. Each moment is a moment of birth, and each moment is a moment of a type of death.  A type of ending that opens to a new beginning. These moments are a gift.  

Try moving your body with any of these following poems and haiku’s that I weaved within our practices. 

 

Rebirth.

By: Alex Elle

 

There will be moments when

You bloom fully and then

Wilt, only to bloom again.

If we can learn anything from

Flowers it is that resilience is born

Even when we feel like we are

Dying.

Rebirth

By: Rupi Kaur

Wilt

Fall

Root

Rise

Bloom

This is the recipe of life

Said my mother

As she held me in her arms

As I wept

Think of those flowers you plant

In the garden each year

They will teach you

That people too

Must wilt

Fall

Root

Rise

In order to bloom

Rebirth

By: Derek Evers

A hyacinth sways

Flamboyant and exciting

Each bursting with soul

Rebirth (haiku #23)

By: Mysidian Bard

It isn’t too late

It’s never too late to start

All over again

May you begin whatever you feel is in your heart.

 

 

All my love,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe

 

 
Sharing our unique gifts with the world

 

Each of us has a myriad of gifts.

Right now you have the gift of your breath.

You have the gift of your body.

You have the gift of your consciousness.

You have the gift of your heart.

You have the gift of your Spirit!

You have the gift of intuition.


They are gifts because we can use each of them to bring us back into the present moment. Each of these gifts can be used in ways that connect us to others on deep, personal levels. They are gifts because they are pathways to experiencing our Highest Self. 


Recently my intuition told me that I needed to watch a certain TEDTalk that a friend had passed along. 

HERE is that TED Talk with Kyle MacDonald about how he turned one red paperclip into a house within a year’s time! 

Perhaps there are many different ways in which you could perceive his TEDTalk, but this is what I took away from my own perspective and used as intention in last week’s classes:

 
When you have a gift, how will you use it?

When you have a gift, you can choose to do something with it and to be creative in how you use it!

Kyle had a beautiful meditative moment sitting at his desk. He looked down and saw a red paper clip. In that moment of connection he got curious and creative! He wondered if he could put this “gift” of his red paper clip out into the world and see If anybody would trade for it.

He ended up trading it up for a fish pen!  And from a fish pen to a door knob that had an interesting face on it, and from that door knob to a camping stove! And so on and so on until, within the matter of less than a year, he had a house in Canada!  

When you share your gift (s) with the world

  • You never know what you might receive in return
  • Who you’ll meet
  • Where you might go
  • What might happen
  • What experiences you’ll have
  • And how many lives you will touch

And the biggest gift of all?!

It’s YOU!  YOU ARE A GIFT!  

How will you share your Light with the world?

Perhaps it’s that smile and knowing nod to the stranger you pass on the street.

Maybe you give the gift of a hug to your loved one today.

Maybe you’ll be on the receiving end of somebody else’s Light.

Don’t take it for granted when somebody shines their Light on you.

And may you not take your own Light for granted. 

May you never block your gifts. And may you remember to live from your courageous heart so that the world will have the gift of you!



All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe

Step into your courage, both on and off the mat.

 

I want to empower your courageous heart, that I know you have; with a mudra, a meditation, and a few words. May this piece of writing support you, may it reassure you, and may it surround you with unconditional love. May you always remind yourself that it takes courage to look inward. That it takes courage to acknowledge the fear, the joy, the worry, the beauty, and so much more, that we will ever experience in our lifetimes.

 

Mark Nepo writes:

“The courage of the seed:

All the buried seeds

Crack open in the dark

The instant they surrender

To a process they can’t see.”

He goes on to write:

 

“What a powerful lesson is the beginning of spring. All around us, everything small and buried surrenders to a process that none of the buried parts can see. And this innate surrender allows everything edible and fragrant to break ground into a life of light that we call spring. In nature, we are quietly given countless models of how to give ourselves over to what appears dark and hopeless, but which ultimately is an awakening that is beyond all imagining. This moving through the dark into blossom is the threshold to God. As a seed buried in the earth cannot imagine itself as an orchid or hyacinth, neither can a heart packed with her imagine itself loved or at peace. The courage of the seed is that once cracking, it cracks all the way.”

 

I invite you dear reader to take this gesture of your hands, Abhaya Hridaya Mudra, the fearless/courageous heart gesture. 

Here is a picture:

A mudra to depict a courageous heart
A mudra to depict a courageous heart

*Cross your right wrist in front of your left wrist and bring the backs of your hands to touch, palms facing out. Interlace your pinky fingers. Skip your ring fingers, and interlace your middle fingers. Interlace your index fingers. Now connect your ring and thumb fingertips to touch. Bring this mudra in front of your heart and breathe.

 

As you breathe you may listen to the meditation that came through during the week while we held this intention. I was so struck by the meditation that I had my husband pull out the guided visualization meditation at the end of one of my classes so that you could have it for use at any time. Here is is: 12 mins guided meditation.

 

How would a person with a courageous heart act?

What would a person with a courageous heart say?

I’ve been saying the past couple weeks in my classes to my students how brave I believe them to be. And I also believe you, dear reader, to be just as brave and courageous.

I know you are because you’re reading this. And because you know that in my writings, we sometimes talk about things that are challenging. I bring in topics that can be difficult topics to approach.

 

And I know that in order for real, lasting transformation to happen, we must be fearless. This might sound like a very bold way to say it, but sometimes we must be bold. And, that being bold can also mean resting and restoring.  It can mean to be forgiving.  It can mean to surrender.

 

Think now of all those seeds beneath the earth that we cannot see. Think now to all those things within you that have yet to blossom. As you imagine those seeds beneath the earth, feel how simultaneously you’re trusting the process. That you know one day you will see a bud breaking ground.

 

How does the seed, as it cracks open, know to send the stem upwards? How does it know to send its roots downwards? How does it know to move in the direction of the Light that is so life-giving? I speak of the sun here, but I also speak metaphorically.

 

And yet, just as there is trust in the unfolding of the journey and its process, action is still being taken. The stem pushes the dirt in order to break ground and grow. The roots draw up the nutrients of the soil. The roots drink the life-giving water in order to grow. And even once broken ground, the stems breathe the life giving air.

 

We, too, can continue to take action towards our own growth just as much as we can surrender to the unfolding of our life.

*And both take courage!

 

It takes courage to step inside a sacred pause, a sacred moment, and to take a sacred breath. It takes courage to create a moment for ourselves.  It takes courage in that sacred pause to acknowledge all that we are feeling. It takes courage to honor all that we witness in those sacred moments. All moments are sacred (more on this and next week’s blog). It takes courage to acknowledge all that we have experienced. And it takes courage to acknowledge all that we dream of.

 

How do you empower your own courageous heart?

How can you live more fully from your courageous heart?

How will you nourish your courageous heart, just like you would nourish a seed that you’ve planted?

 

I invite you to use my meditation again. Use it so that you can be reminded, just like planting a seed, that you need care. The seed needs to be watered. The seed needs to be given just the right amount of sunlight for that particular seed type. That it needs to be protected. That it needs nourishment. And that it needs patience. And that just as we offer it patience, we also offer trust in a process we cannot see.  May you offer yourself all of these same things; Love, water, sunlight, nourishment(food and movement), protection, patience, and trust in your own blossoming.

 

All my love,

Shawna 🙏🏻

Breathe and Believe.

These past 2 weeks have been a truly beautiful exploration of ‘dance’, leaving space for “something else to enter”, and a movement into the courageous heart.  This is a 2-in-1 blog, so go slowly. Come back often, and go at your own pace; it’s long! 😉

The healing power of a dance to help us move through our feelings.

“When was the last time you danced?”

-Native American Medicine to the sick; as written in Mark Nepo’s ‘The Book of Awakening’.

Mr. Nepo goes on to write:

 

“The beginning of dance is giving gestures to what we feel. While this is very obvious and basic to most children, it remains very difficult for those of us schooled to live in our heads.

 

  The ongoing effort to dance, to give gestures to what we feel and experience, is ultimately healing because, as river beds are continually shaped by the water that moves them, living beings are continually shaped by the feelings and experiences that move through them. If there is no water moving through, the riverbed dries up and crumbles. Likewise, if there is no feeling moving through the body, the being at the center of that body will crumble.

 

  More often, though, there is too much to give a gesture to, and we fail to move these feelings through our bodies. In truth, much of our inner sickness comes from the buildup and pressure of all that is kept in.  The ongoing act of releasing that inner buildup is what spiritual practices call embodiment.

 

…. Once unblocked, giving gestures to our inwardness not only freezes us from becoming pressurized, but the gestures, once allowed out, teach us how to dance further into our own lives.

 

…. Embodiment is allowing our heart, mind, and body to exist as one miraculous skin.”

 

This quote came on the heels of a class I had done the week prior around the theme of unity. In considering unity and oneness, I was doing my own self-inquiry into where emotions fell within the layers of being. Resourcing yoga and the yogic principles of the layers of being, the koshas, I was reminded how emotions are a part of the manomaya kosha, or the mind layer. 

 

The five layers, or sheaths, of being are:

  • Annamaya kosha, the physical body
  • Pranamaya kosha, the subtle, energetic body
  • Manomaya kosha, the mind, emotions, and cognitive mind
  • Vijnanamaya kosha, the intuitive self
  • Anandamaya kosha, the bliss body

As I revisited the layers of being of Self, I began to envision them as a web within a web, within a web, within a web, and so on.  Not one separate from the other, but rather an interconnected and entered dependent web of life within oneself.  Some like to invite you to imagine the koshas as an onion, layer within layer. However, for my imagination, the web seemed more fitting this time around because of their dance with each other; “one miraculous skin”. 

 

To move is to feel.

To move is to release the buildup that has blocked us from being able to feel.

 

When we become more aware, we see where we can let go.

To practice bringing our awareness to what is. To become more aware is to not dismiss any part of ourselves. This is a very courageous act. To become more aware of what we are experiencing in every layer of ourselves, and to choose to become more aware, is a very brave act in life. Dancing from the koshas, to emotions, to the body, to the mind, and bringing it back to the heart, is where I was so divinely guided to fall upon an interview with Father Guidalberto Bormolini in the Parabola magazine. This became the intention of the next week’s classes; “to create space for something else to enter”, to let go.

 

As Mark Nepo had spoken of embodiment in spiritual practices being the release of buildup and pressure of the intake of how we feel, our experiences, life, our thoughts, and so much more, both inward and outward. 

 

With this, we come to realize that we need to move.  We need to not only physically move in whatever way possible(even if assisted, think massage), but we realize that by moving our bodies, we are moving the experiences through all the layers of our being and we are releasing their charge.  We are releasing the energetic, psychological, emotional, and spiritual build up. We are creating space. 

 

We must use our awareness and deep self-compassion in order to be able to feel, in order to recognize when we have too much buildup so that we don’t become over  pressured and blow!  We must allow ourselves the full range of emotions in order to not push anything aside, shove it down, or hide it under the rug; only to come back with greater force, or make us sick. 

 

We must continue to move so that we can open our hearts to be moved.  

Our hearts must be empty in order to be open, and to be receptive.

We must acknowledge, have awareness, make space for all that is loving us.

We must release, surrender, let go, become still, empty, and silent so that we can allow beauty in.  So we can see the beauty of life; and so we can experience our True Essence, the divine, which is at best, indescribable.

“In order to be still-which is emptiness-You need to empty yourself from everything perishable.

 

  Emptying everything that is finite, to open oneself to the infinite, the immortal. The process of the greatest mystical traditions is not reaching an empty void, but to create the space for something to enter. In the world of the spirit there is no void. Once we create space it is filled with something else–That is the law in the spiritual world.

 

  If we empty ourselves from the ego, this part will be filled with the spirit. But if we feel all our space with the ego, there is no space for the spirit to inhabit.

 

…. If you want the wine of mysticism that intoxicates, symbolizing the unity with the divine. If you want this wine, you have to empty what is not precious from the cup, the things of low quality. In Egyptian hieroglyphics the cup symbolizes the heart. The heart must be free in order to be filled with the drink of immortality. The nectar of immortality. If we have this empty cup, then the divine can fill it and it will continue to fill it to infinity.” – Father Guidalberto Bormolini:

 

I offered this guided meditation:

After you have moved your body, allowing all things to move through it, then settle into stillness. You might be seated or lying down.

Within this stillness and silence, start to experience your breath. Experiencing that spark of life flowing through you, in and out.

Begin to imagine the most beautiful cup, chalice, or vessel. Whether it’s a cup you’ve seen before or not, observe all parts of its beauty. 

As you gaze into the vessel, you notice that it is empty. But you know that there is not nothing in there.  

Your deep inner wisdom knows that what is held in the cup is the nectar of life, the divine.  It is in the cup, it is the cup, it’s in you, it’s all around you, and it fills everything. 

Take your time here and sit with the chalice. Be still and empty yourself.  Empty yourself so that you can become that open and empty vessel.

And upon emptying, you realize that the vessel is your own heart! And that your heart is now an open place for all that is good to enter. You are receptive to spirit, love, or however you name it, to pour down into you. 

Om Shanti, om peace.

Take a deep breath and open your eyes when you are ready. 

Now that you are empty, and yet completely full of life, love and Light, acknowledge all that you have just done.  Again, these are brave acts you’re doing here. Surrendering, allowing, trusting.  It takes courage!  And that’s where we arrive this week!  That’s next week’s blog, with mudra(One of my faves!) and mantra.

 

All my love,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.