Month: May 2022

In My Own Words
Where do you draw your strength from?

Are you having difficulty finding the strength to carry on?

Feeling that what strength you do have isn’t enough to make the changes you envision for yourself and the world?

 

As the season changes here in the northern hemisphere, I feel both the exhilarating energy that warmer weather and sunshine offers me, and simultaneously the overwhelm.  

 

Energy that is freeing and feels of possibilities and overwhelmed by the state of the world, the country, family life, and day-to-day routines; all which feel sped up by the change of weather. 

 

But, I believe that there are ways in which we can ground. We can strengthen connections within and without that will serve the healing for all and help us navigate change.  

 

We can turn the concern of situations into fire that fuels our actions. We can develop and strengthen sources of strength within ourselves for the betterment of all beings.

 

This is what the purpose of my latest creation is meant to build:

 

Source of Strength

About my new course 

This course is about physical strengthening, mental strengthening, and spiritual strengthening.  Or ‘Source’ of strength comes from a divine place within. As we return to sacred practices, have some fun, get to know each other, and ground, we will grow our strength from the inside out. I’ll be sharing more details on the course with an option to register next week.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched … but are felt in the heart.”-Helen Keller.

May this experience of my new offering be a journey that when you look back on it, gives you great strength!

 

Inspiration for this blog and the course: 

 Mark Nepo begins his entry for December 6th in his book “The Book of Awakening: having the life you want by being present to the life you have”, using the above quote by Helen Keller. 

 

Mark Nepo goes on to write:

 

“There is an ancient Chinese art of painting on porcelain. It requires, more than skill and precision, a deep trust and patience in the process. It involves painting thin layers of pigment, one at a time, on the porcelain, letting each dry and soak into the porcelain itself. But even when dry, the pigment doesn’t yet reveal its color. You never know what the color will be until the porcelain is fired in the kiln–That is, until the pigment is burned into the porcelain itself.

 

This is remarkably like the life of questions that come from living. We use the brush of our feelings to paint our questions into our heart. But only after the fire of experience, only after our felt questions are burned by experience into our heart, only then do we see the color of truth emerge.

 

So there are no answers to the deeper questions of living, only the emerging colors of truth which we must find the trust and patience to live into.”

 

Our truths emerge from experience.

 

This is explicitly why I invite you into “source of strength”, as well as all of my offerings, group classes and one-on-one, retreats, journey to the peak, and more!

 

Using last week’s R.A.I.N. acronym from Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach: 

We come to learn how taking time to reflect back on our experiences supports growth, transformation, and being able to then draw out and discern what our truths are.

 

*R.A.I.N. is recognition, acceptance, investigation, nurture/non-identification. You can read that blog here.

 

Even in the present moment upon looking back, we can also come to learn how returning to the present moment and allowing life’s flow to take place holds great wisdom as well. This trust and patience in the process holds great wisdom.  This is why I chose to use the Shuni mudra, the mood draw for the planet Saturn, for our classes.  

 

See that fun picture above with myself in the mudra and Quinn on my lap! I tried to get her in the mood, it was fun.  

 

Shuni, Saturn, Is the Vedic astrology representation of self-discipline, karmic cycles, and patience through the process. I do not know very much of anything of Vedic Astrology, but I found this mudra to be very helpful in reminding me to just surrender into life’s flow.

 

You can try it now by turning your palms up and resting your hands upon your lap. Connect your middle and thumb fingertips to meet. Close your eyes or gaze towards the earth and take some nice slow steady breaths.  Ground yourself in the flow of life. Have faith in your process.

 

As we moved through our practices in my heart I kept hearing the whisper of Rainer Maria Rilke speaking:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

How beautiful and so poetic.

We must let life flow through us. Not clinging, not pushing it away.

“The heart is the place through which energy flows to sustain you…

…To achieve this state, simply allow the experiences of life to come in and pass through your being.”

                                                                               -Michael A. Singer, “The untethered soul”

 

All the negative and positive impressions will come up time and time again. Those impressions and feelings painted upon our heart, like the pigment on the porcelain.  Those impressions can burn us like the Chinese kiln, but this is the process to live life, to live the questions, and then grow into clarity and true self.  

Allow yourself, your heart, to feel. Let it flow through you. This is life.

“Learn to be centered enough to just watch this stuff come up.”-Michael A. Singer

Allow yourself to be painted by the brush strokes of life, let it paint your body, your mind, your heart, and spirit!  And when you look back upon all the emerging colors of your truth, the beauty of your life, and all its ups and downs, may you be struck with awe and gratitude.

 

All my love,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

 

sea shells

Last week’s intention came from a personal place of emotional overwhelm. Perhaps you’ve experienced moments of overwhelm too?  How did you ride the waves of emotions and feelings? How did it go?

 

A new offering coming soon.

I am inviting you into an offering I will be releasing into the world next week that can support you in releasing the overwhelm and also navigating heightened emotions! It is an offering that will be a “Source of Strength” for your physical body, your emotions, and your Spirit. We will move our bodies with the intention to build capacity for greater physical and mental well-being, and Heart Center resiliency. I am really excited about this two week program! Short, but powerful! Details out soon!

 

As I waded through the stickiness of global eruptions, national challenges, and family events, I first leaned into silence and then my books. Sometimes we just need to lay down, close our eyes, and release a deep sigh.  

 

I then found, as Source would Guide me, Jack Kornfiekd and J. Krishnamurti’s words to be a balm. The words didn’t rid me of emotions into pure peace, but they did indeed support an acceptance that led to equanimity and, for me, more compassion. I hope you will be able to take away something too.

 

In his book, “The wise heart,” Jack Kornfield writes about the teachings of Buddhist psychology.

 

The ninth principle of Buddhist psychology says:

“Wisdom knows what feelings are present without being lost in them.”

He goes on to share how we can work with our emotions using this perspective. He offers a “how-to” by way of an acronym.

 

R.A.I.N.

  • Recognition
  • Acceptance
  • Investigation
  • Non-identification

*As I learned recently from my dear friend, Randi, one of Jack Kornfield’s collaborators, Tara Brach, replaces non-identification with nurture.  I feel that both Jack and Tara lead us to the same thing no matter which we choose to put in for the letter ‘N’.

 

As we explore deeper into this content here, I find it always wise to remember to connect to your heart and use the pathway of compassion. Even the beginning act of opening your awareness to what is present in the moment, and what your experience is in the here and now, can sometimes be overwhelming in and of itself. Feel free to return to last week’s blog on keeping an open heart.  You might also take time to slow down, ground, and take a deep breath.  Release and trust (That’s next week!).

 

Mr. Kornfield goes on to write that,

For many Western practitioners, it is important to spend a period actively reclaiming their feelings. Because this reclaiming is not usually done, we may need help. Practitioners and teachers can sit and inquire together. What feelings are present? Can they be recognized and accepted fully here and now? To release our resistance, we can begin to allow the state to intensify, to open and expand, to get bigger or change or dissolve as it will.

He further writes:

 

“We learn to trust our capacity to experience difficult states in a fearless way. When we have accepted the feelings that arise, we can investigate them. We can notice the way they feel in the body; the color, density, size, and energy of the mood; the stories our mind creates when they are present. We can also begin to recognize how automatic they can be, arising unbidden from past conditioning.”

 

 

How beautifully then, I opened J. Krishnamurti’s book, “The Book of Life: daily meditations with Krishnamurti”. 

 

His passage on the ability to remain with a feeling and to see what happens felt so succinct, in harmony with all I was starting to explore with Buddhist psychology.  He writes, “You never remain with any feeling, pure and simple, but always surround it with the paraphernalia of words. The word distorts it; thought, whirling around it, throws it into shadow, overpowers it with mountainous fears and longings. You never remain with a feeling, and with nothing else: with hate, or with that strange feeling of beauty.”

 

He offered this picture…

 

“See if you can stay with a feeling. Can you? Have you ever tried? Try to remain with a feeling, see what happens. You will find it is amazingly difficult. Your mind will not leave the feeling alone; It comes rushing in with its remembrances, it’s associations, it’s do’s and don’ts, it’s everlasting chatter. Pick up a piece of shell. Can you look at it, wonder at its delicate beauty, without saying how pretty it is, or what animal made it? Can you look without the movement of the mind?”

 

I do, personally, find it difficult. Even when I invited people to imagine a seashell in my classes this week, my mind immediately expanded an entire vision of a seaside and the ocean and the sand and the sky and so much more. I had to guide my consciousness back to just the seashell. And even then, to just see the seashell.  

 

But through this envisioning of being with a seashell, my mind began to see how just recognizing and accepting, seeing and honoring my emotions had already brought me back to a place of grounded equanimity. I wasn’t going to react. I was breathing. I still felt very deeply, but I felt more connected to the moment and more in control of how I would respond and what I wanted to do. I had choice.

 

Sometimes I chose to investigate and other times I didn’t.  But I could always remember the deepest sense of my Highest Self and to remember as I practiced R.A.I.N., that I wasn’t the strong emotions I was having.  

 

Jack Kornfield:

“With mindfulness we can learn that even powerful feelings and emotions are not to be feared. They are simply energy. When they are recognized, acknowledge, investigated, we are liberated from our clinging. And then we can choose. We can act on those that need a response and let others become freed as the energy of life.”

I am that energy of life. I am free. My wisdom knows what my feelings are without clinging to the story, without getting lost in the ocean of emotions.  My Highest Self has the ability to simply recognize and to accept with an open heart.

 

Even as I write that it sounds so simple, and yet my lived experiences begged to differ. I can remember a time when I was so deeply enraged that I was not able to let anything in or to be able to consciously see anything else. I was so in the emotion of rage that I couldn’t even think of what to do next. I had no ability to accept the rage or investigate it and it seemed as if I was rage.

 

Another example from my personal life, is when I’m in nature. When I walk through the trees and recognize a flower, it’s hard not to sigh at its beauty. Walking in nature gives me time to be able to slow down enough to recognize what I am feeling. I can continue to walk and choose to nurture my experience in ways that allow me to release as well as receive. I can release a story that is from the past and with it I can release the emotion that it activates within me; I return to equanimity.  I breathe.  

 

By the time I had completed the physical practice to go along with this theme, my emotional overwhelm had lessened greatly. As I moved through hip openers to support the sacral chakra, home of emotions, there was just a sense of surrender and acceptance.  And, simultaneously, the second chakra is home of locomotion and movement. I wanted to support each of us in our abilities to move with what came up in the physical practice on the emotional level. Again, acceptance.

 

I invite you to sit with this acceptance mudra:
  • sit comfortably, even in a chair.
  • rest the tops of your hands to your legs, palms facing up.
  • connect the tip of your index finger to the inner base of your thumb, at the base knuckle.
  • cover your pinky fingernail completely with the pad of your thumb.
  • leave the middle and ring fingers gently extended.
  • sit for a couple of minutes or even longer.

Breathe, and allow your breath and this gesture of your hands to support you in seeing all that is within you, accepting it, and knowing that your truest nature is beyond thought, emotion, form. Come back to the home of your heart, your true light.

 

I think the universe was also supporting us by giving us rainy days. 🙂

 

Under the umbrella with you,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe. 

Refections from JTTP's theme on rebirth

As I reflected on this past month’s ‘Journey to the Peak’ theme of “rebirth”, I see how a lot came through. I then stumbled upon and anatomically corrected emoji heart. This heart is what reminded me of our need to continually open our hearts.  Each breath becoming a rebirth, an opening to the expressions of the heart.

 

At the beginning of the month we started with Mark Nepo’s Continuum of the seed cracking until fully open in support of our courageous hearts to blossom open! We then dove into remembering each moment is a rebirth, and a gift. We were reminded by Kyle MacDonald and his red paper clip TED talk that each of us have many gifts.  That we, ourself, are a gift and to not hold that gift back from the world.  And last week we explored rebirth through haikus, poems, and story.

 

 

From the emoji to remembering all of these past wonderful weeks, something beautiful transpired within myself. I can only explain it as Source coming through me.  

 

 

Spirit had me write:

 

“This is a constant request that we must make of ourselves everyday. For our survival and for the survival of the human race, and the planet. That might sound extreme, but it’s needed and I invited everyone in my classes to start simple, to start within.

 

Breathe.

 

What has ever made your heart close?

What makes your heart open?

Practice calling into your heart and mind all that opens your wells of compassion, love, and empathy.

Practice acknowledging where you’ve been hurt, where you’ve been heartbroken, so you can repair, mend, and heal.

Practice wrapping everything in you with Light, warmth, and a smile; No matter how awkward or difficult that feels now, practice so that later it becomes habit/ritual.

Acknowledge the fear of being hurt again.

Release; you won’t be the same in the future.

 

Practicing that keeping your heart closed blocks the Light and let’s the pain penetrate deeper. This is to practice vulnerability, awareness, acceptance, and unconditional positive regard for ones Self, unconditional love.

 

And this takes a courageous heart!”

 

We have to leave space. Space so that the light can get in, and space so that we can be receptive to love.

We also have to leave space so that what is hurting can get out.

 

Rumi said it so beautifully:

“Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. Be crumbled. So wildflowers will come up where you are. You’ve been stony for too many years. Try something different. Surrender.”

Be crumbled. Let the seed crack so it can blossom. Rumi also said,

“You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.”

How do you open your heart? How do you keep it open?

 

Some of the things we explored as ways to create open heart were:

  1. Doing something you love
  2. Stop doing the things you don’t love
  3. Stop hurting and blaming yourself
  4. Start loving yourself
  5. Connect with loving people
  6. Share a hug or smile
  7. Uphold wonder and curiosity
  8. Name a gratitude, name 20 more gratitudes!
  9. Name something you love about yourself
  10. Name something you love about your friend
  11. Name something you love about your partner
  12. Name something you love about your pets

What else has opened your heart? How else do you try to keep your heart open?  Another way I try to keep my heart open is to really allow myself to feel. To feel all the wide array of human emotions. This is why it takes a courageous heart.

“Even if your hands are shaking, and your faith is broken. Even as the eyes are closing, do it with a heart wide open.”-John Mayer

“No bird can fly without opening its wings, and no one can love without exposing their hearts.”-Mark Nepo

With an open heart,

Shawna 🙏🏻💗

Breathe and Believe.