Month: July 2022

new

July’s new moon happened on July 28th and is in the zodiac sign of Leo, the lion.  This new moon has particular potency when it comes to energy. Not only because it is in the sign of Leo but also because it is in a trine with Jupiter in Aries. This trine adds a cloak of good luck, optimism, and so much potential overall of our intentions and actions!

 

(*I’ve read that Jupiter is all about expansion! Bringing faith, optimism, and hope to all zodiac signs on this new moon.)

 

So what does all of this mean for you?

 

This means that this week, even a few days after the new moon as the energy is still vibrating, is a good time for you to get clear on your intentions. New moons always are inviting us to turn over a new leaf, to revisit our intentions, to revisit our dreams, and to realign with ourself.

Realigning with your Higher Self requires space and time. Before I dove into learning what this new moon particularly represented, I had been connecting with this quote from Morgan Harper Nichols from last week’s classes:

“In this ever busy world, there is still time and space for us to explore who we are beyond the messages we thought would define us.”

How powerful. 

 

Can you remember when you were a child and thinking that you would become (add your vision that did not actually come into fruition)?

 

Can you remember being young and thinking that you would act and speak and be a certain way when you grew up, that isn’t true today?

 

Even now, at whatever age you happen to be today, and if it’s your birthday, happy birthday, can you set aside all the messages of what you thought would define you and ask this question…

If you had no limitations, what would you want?

 

For a moment, release all the ways you define and know yourself. As best you can, step into the Unknown in which everything is possible, you are limitless, you are infinite, and you hold an unprecedented positive potential! Go ahead, add a physical stance and embody it, make a sound or noise, scream out that most awesome mantra like the rock star you are! 

 

How does it feel?  What feels possible here, now?!

 

Again, what do you want? How do you want to feel? What do you desire most? What is your heart’s burning desire? Take a moment at this point, put this blog down, pick up your pen and paper and write it all out!

 

Writing is such an embodied practice.

Place the paper you wrote on at your altar space. Post it where you can see it every day. Make a ritual with it if you want; You could even light a candle or just simply give gratitude to the energy of the universe that is supporting you along this entire journey that is your life; your intentionally lived life.

 

Intentions can help support a movement of action towards our dreams. Intentions can help us see the next actionable step. Intentions infuse an energy of positivity in our everyday lives.

 

Exercise:

yoga asana

 

In a standing position, let your arms rest by your sides. On an inhale, raise your arms out and up to the sky as you breathe in. As you exhale, spread your arms out and down, back by your sides. Do this a couple of times. Notice what you notice.

 

Now, set one clear intention as you’ll do the movements a second time.

Let your intention be short so that you can say it in one sentence. Let your intention be very clear and simple. Let your intention come from your heart. An example of an intention might be, “I intend to stay present during my movement.”  Another example might be, “I intend to breathe with my body.” Maybe your intention is, “I feel ease and peace as I move.”

 

Keeping your intention in your heart, move your arms up and down in rhythm with your breathing a second time. Notice what you notice. 

 

Did your movement change at all? Did your experience shift in any way? If so, in what ways? How was it to have an intention versus no intention? Feel free to write to me and let me know.

 

Having an intention can support us in many ways. I wrote about intentions and you can read about it here.

 

*A little side note about how intentions can support us in getting back into that space of actually experiencing what Morgan Harper Nichols was getting at, that sense of “time and space for us to explore”. Goals can often be finite and have some specific number attributed to them. Intentions can open us up to the vastness of how we want to feel in our life, what we want to experience in our life, and many other things.

 

Journal Prompts:

-How would you like to feel in your life?

-What do you want to be experiencing in your life?

-What do you want?

-What do you desire?

 

With this new moon in Leo, the Lionheart really invites us to stand in our power and truth!

To roar out loud our place in all things, and to explain our heart centered intentions. It invites us to make our passions a reality. To listen to our intuition, revisit our dreams, reimagine the changes we so desire, and to create the vision forward. The essence of the sign of Leo invites us to really go big, to cut away our fears, and most of all to be willing to do this!

 

Experience:

Kali mudra

 

Clasp your hands together in front of your navel, and press palm to palm with all fingers in her lace. Extend only your index fingers forward. Soften your shoulders but lift your heart. Sit here breathing deeply for 5 to 10 breaths. Feel what you feel, notice what you notice.

 

The Kali mudra that you have in your hands symbolizes the strength, courage, will, and power energy that you possess in order to destroy your fears.

To really slice away the worry and trepidation. To aim directly at that which you seek from the clarity of your own knowing. And to do this with your fierce and compassionate heart! With all the fiery energy and actionable steps that this new moon is inviting us to dance in, this is why it’s important to come at it from the heart center. To bring your intuition, heart, and compassion and gentleness into all of this explosive energy of possibility and potential!

 

This too is the embodiment of your gesture, mudra, and the essence of the Goddess Kali.When we evoke the energy of a God, Goddess we are evoking all that they stand for that we already possess within ourselves. 

 

So in the next week or so, become clear in your intentions. Really embody your most “feisty and fabulous version of yourself”! Read the article here by Nina Khan.

 

And as Nina wrote in her blog:

“Trust your ability to make miraculous things happen!”

 

Ground yourself, listen within. Remember that you are universal as much as you have the potential to manifest into this physical realm what you desire and seek.

 

*Apologies for not writing a blog around last week’s intention about really appreciating and seeing the beauty of the finer details of what makes each of us up. At the bottom of the blog I’ll add in some powerful quotes from that week’s practices.

 

All my love,

Shawna

 

P.S. Thanks to my dear friend Victor who really brought in the idea that we have no idea of who someone really is until we study them more closely. Until we listen to them with an open heart and a non-judging mind. May we reflect that same essence and offer the same love to ourself.

Powerful quotes from that week’s practices.

“To see the details of our own personal tapestry of our own self, to accept and integrate the light and the shadows with equal love and gentleness, and to come to embody that first opportunity to practice compassion, which is with oneself, is to become mindful”   -Shawna

 

“Mindfulness is attention. It’s a non-judging and respectful awareness.”  

-Jack Kornfield

 

“Attention is the beginning of devotion.” 

-Mary Oliver

 

“Devotion simply means connectivity. It’s an unquestionable connection. And it depends only on you.”

-Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

 

Buddhist psychology 7th principle states:

“Mindful attention to any experience as liberating. Mindfulness brings perspective, balance, and freedom”

 

Shunryu Suzuki writes, “The beginners mind gives us the benefit of curiosity and openness. We pay attention with respect and interest, not in order to manipulate, but to understand what is true. And seeing what is true, the heart becomes free” (I think of parenting with this.)

 

“Mindfulness is all helpful.”-Buddha

 

I also use the Morgan Harper Nichols quote in this blog above, during last week’s practices.

And as last week’s class was wrapped around offering this mindfulness and attention to oneself in order to acknowledge all parts of our truest natures. I closed with a quote from Alok Vaid-Menon.

They wrote:

 

“Surrounded by the people who loved me for me, I realized I finally had other people to support me in my journey. That made all the difference. Even though the bullying never stopped, I finally had people around me to process it with. There’s magic in being seen by people who understand–It gives you permission to keep going. Self-expression sometimes requires other people. Becoming ourselves is a collective journey.”

 

(LOVE THIS!!)

All my love,

Shawna 

nature

 

 

Ajahn Chah, teacher to Jack Kornfield, says:

You should know both the universal and the personal, the realm of forms and the freedom to not cling to them. The forms of the world have their place, but in another way there is nothing there. To be free, we need to respect both of these truths.

Jack Kornfield starts his chapter on the 6th Buddhist psychology principle with that quote and goes on to say:

In the simplest language, we are spiritual beings incarnated into human form. We need to remember our ZIP code as well as our Buddha nature.

I love Jack Kornfield’s ability to have humor in his deeply spiritual and human work. One of his books is entitled ‘After the ecstasy, the laundry’! 

Even though the last two weeks have been around the first and second Buddhist psychology principles, I felt really drawn to the sixth principle this week. The sixth Buddhist psychology principle states:

Our life has universal and personal nature. Both dimensions must be respected if we are to be happy and free.

 
Oscillating between these two realms – personal and universal

I have to admit, this principle had me really thinking and feeling. And at this point in my journey with the concepts, I’ve come to feel that dance of life. And, have come to really notice within my body just how much of a beautiful oscillation in the whole spectrum between these two realms there is in any given moment of my life.

 

In my A.L.I.G.N. one-on-one work, I have the honor to hold space and witness it within my clients. In my Thai massage practice, I have the honor to watch and feel, in real time, a shift from the personal to the Universal; and then to see in the receiver’s eyes, that glow of the divine when they slowly arise from the experience of being lovingly moved and touched.  

 

It’s what I also pray for when I guide my yoga classes. My hope and prayer is for each and every individual to truly feel their deep worth and worthiness, beyond labels of who they are and what they do. Even as we dive into sometimes challenging content, those concepts of life that can be difficult to approach, are wrapped in love and tenderness. That we each arise from our corpse poses as the brilliant Light beings that we are, and remembering that we are love and are so deserving to receive love.

 

 

 

To embody and symbolize these truths, we used the Chin Mudra, pictured above. This seal and gesture of the hands is representative of that connection of the universal and personal selves. Chin Mudra is the consciousness gesture.

 

Think of the personal as everything here on earth. Your body, your emotions, your thoughts, and all other beings and things. Even Mother Nature herself. The personal, as Jack wrote, is the remembering of your ZIP code, remembering to brush your teeth, allowing yourself to feel the whole wide array of human emotions, taking care of the planet, taking care of each other, and so much more.

 

The universal is that big picture. It’s the realization that we are infinite beings of vibration and Universal consciousness. The universal is our spirit as prayer, as hope, as love.  The universal are those awe-inspiring, and heart opening moments of connection, no matter where, when, or how they happen.

 

In the Dhammapada, a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form, it says:

Experience this world as a bubble, a wave, and illusion, a dream.

Jack Kornfield writes after this quote,

The universal dimension is the big picture. When we remember the selflessness of all things, our life falls into perspective. The universal dimension reminds us that all things on earth are transitory, tentative, appearing out of emptiness and then disappearing.

I find it, in my personal and humble opinion, necessary to remember this nature of ourselves everyday. This is where the oscillation between personal and universal can play positively in our lives.  

 

How can we remind ourselves each day of our universal nature and truth? And why might this be important?

Sometimes we do this through meditation, sometimes we might do this through moving our physical form in mindful and intentional practices, and sometimes a sense or a vision or a sound tickles our heart in the most joyful and peaceful ways.

 

So we can take action and remember our universal Nature, and sometimes from the personal nature here on Earth, we receive an unexpected experience that just cracks our heart wide open. I always reference the beauty of the sun rises and sunsets here.

 

Or an unexpected connection with a stranger in which we see each other’s universal natures through a conversation or an interaction or just a confirming smile as we pass each other on the sidewalk that says, “I see you, I know life is hard right now, and you are so loved and seen right now.” (Okay, maybe not all of that is said with a knowing smile, but we can hold that intention and message in our hearts! Lol!)

 

This is important so that we do not get lost in the worry, fear, and doubt. This is important so that we can remember our important place in all of life in a positive manner. This is important so that we can offer this way of seeing to another human being. This is important so that we can see just how important it is to take care of ourself, each other, and the planet.

 

But don’t forget about form in the midst of all the universal beauty!

If you tell a Zen master everything is like a dream, she will take her stick and whack you over the head. Then she will ask,”Is that a dream? Focusing on the big picture alone is not enough. Form must be honored.

-Jack Kornfield, ‘The Wise Heart’

I loved that little story! It literally had me laugh out loud as I read it. And it made me smile from my heart because it was so refreshing!

 

It just brings it to the grounds level, that sort of grassroots level that her minds us how important it is to remind ourselves to eat, drink good water, and sleep. To be able to take care of ourself enough to function on a daily level.

 

gratitude

 

Here we see how the universal can support us in stepping into, more easily at least, practices of gratitude for what we have. Practices of seeing the beauty of what’s directly in front of us.  Empowering us to show up where we’re called. Empowering us to help out our fellow human beings, and to even speak and take actions for those who cannot share their voice, and to stand with those whose voices have been silenced for decades. 

 

Or to put this more simply, we become present. We become fully present in the moment with all of our attention, letting even concepts, judgments, names fall away. We just offer an open heart and listening ears with our loving attention.

“Buddhist psychology believes that healing occurs as we learn to move from the realm of concepts to the world of direct experience. Our mental concepts and ideas about things, about people, objects, or feelings, are static and unchanging. But the reality of experience is an ever-changing river. Direct perception drops beneath the names of things to show us their ephemeral, mysterious nature. When we bring our attention to the direct perception of experience, we become more alive and free.”

-Jack Kornfield

 

And I feel called here just to remind even my heart, let alone your heart, to be gentle with yourself. To be loving to yourself. If you’ve ever had a spiritual awakening, a heart opening moment, a weekend experience of deep inner exploration that has left you beautifully open and raw, be gentle with yourself.  Perhaps you’ve taken a trip to another place on this planet, another country, another culture, and upon coming home you had culture shock.  Take it slow on your re-entry back into the reality of day-to-day living. 

 

So I’ll close this blog, using Jack cornfield’s words again because they’re so beautiful. I invite you to really get grounded before reading these words and to center yourself. Really allow yourself to receive these words and then carry them in your heart the rest of the day.

“When we remember who we really are, we bring together the universal with the personal. Instead of becoming more disembodied or rigidly spiritual, we have a sense of humor about the whole dance of life, and everything becomes easier and lighter.

 

We can care for the hydrangeas in our garden, watch our cholesterol, speak out against injustice, and raise money for tsunami and earthquake survivors. And we can meet each person in his or her or their nobility and timeless beauty, beyond age, gender, and race.

 

We can accept the ever-changing seasons of life and know they’re fleeting, ephemeral dance. Honoring the paradox of our true nature, we can laugh with wisdom and tenderly care for the precious days we are given.”

 

All my love,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe

When we meet and experience each other from a heart level, flesh falls away. What is left are the bones of compassion that hold each of us up.

How do we get to the heart? How do we see from the heart?

We must become fearless, vulnerable, and naked.  And we will eventually have to do this with each other.

To get to that sacred space where we can feel safe enough to allow ourselves to become vulnerable and to set fear aside, we first have to practice it with ourselves.

We must be with ourselves, standing in front of our Truest Nature, completely open and honest. Raw. Seeing the beautiful bones and honoring the bruises.

**Now I want you to know, dear reader, you will not find anything scary. You will only ever find beauty. No matter what you’ve been through, no matter what you’ve done, when you dig deeper, and deeper, and deeper, you will only ever find your purest, most original form, and it is beautiful.**

 

You may end up finding parts of yourself that you might not like.  But, when you actually shed light on those parts and integrate them, when you acknowledge those parts, you will find that the whole of who you are is beautiful.

Jack Kornfield writes in his book, “The Wise Heart,” “Each of us has our own measure of pain. Sometimes the pain we suffer is great and obvious; sometimes it is subtle. Our pain can reflect the coldness of our families, the trauma of our parents, the stultifying influence of much modern education and media, the difficulties of being a man or a woman (and I add, the difficulties of however we identify).  As a result, we often feel that we have been cast out. To survive we have to cover our heart, build up a layer of clay, and defend ourselves.

 

We lose the belief that we are worthy of love. The mystic Simone Weil tells us, “The danger is not that the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but that, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry.” Compassion reminds us that we do belong, as surely as we have been lost… Always remember to put your trust in compassion.”

The second principle of Buddhist psychology states:

 

“Compassion is our deepest nature. It arises from our interconnection with all things.”

I invite you to work with compassion intuitively.

If you were to stand in front of a mirror, and look into your own eyes, how might you respond to yourself? And I’m consciously not asking how would you ‘react’ to yourself. Notice the reactions, and then respond from a place of compassion.

How would you talk to yourself as if you were the Divine? Cognitively knowing very well that you are the Divine, how would you hold yourself? How would you support yourself in all of your daily living? How would you nurture yourself and your dreams? 

Would anything be different than what you’re doing now in your life?

To see another through the eyes of love, we must first see ourselves as love.  

As we see ourselves as love, we begin to treat ourselves and speak to ourselves as the Universal Consciousness. 

 

 

As we recognize ourselves as Source; we begin to see that Source is all others.

Source is everywhere.

Source is everyone.

So as you work intuitively with compassion towards your self, know that this will support you in developing the most deepest connection with your truest nature. The best relationship with your Highest Self. And that in that relationship you will develop the trust and confidence that will become so unshakable. No one and nothing else can break it down, can separate you from that Light within your heart, can make you doubt yourself.

This does not mean that you will stop loving others and stop caring less for others, it just means you start caring more for yourself.

And it means, as Jill Wintersteen wrote, that you will have “…develop the trust and confidence in yourself that what you set in motion previously is correct, even if you go through some troubled times.”

I love how Jack Kornfield writes, “Eventually I discovered that unworthiness is not helped by striving. I learned that for real healing I needed compassion.”

Remember the definition of compassion and it’s “fierce sword” by reading my post from years past HERE.

And read HERE about my son’s shoe laces and going “right to the center of the knot”, how it correlates to our compassionate hearts and Buddhism’s four abodes. 

It’s no wonder why I have written about compassion and used it as a theme time and time again. And each time something new is unearthed. A new way of seeing where compassion can be offered. Where it shows up. How we can use it in practice both on the yoga mat and off the mat.  And, how compassion can heal and save our Self and others. 

How will you share compassion and give compassion to yourself today, dear reader? 

Here is one way to show yourself compassion to yourself:

Place the ahamkara mudra, “to do with Self” gesture, in your hands. Softly extend all your fingers.  Partially curl in your index fingers, in each hand separately, and place your thumbs between the first and second knuckles on the outer edge of the index fingers. 

Rest your hands, palm facing up, in your lap. Rest, breathe, and repeat these words to your compassionate essence:

“I am love.

I offer myself grace.

I give myself compassion.

I care for my wounds.

I nourish my Spirit.

I love my Truest Nature, for It is Good.”

Perhaps then you may turn it inwards in another way, and speak to your True Essence:

“I love you.

I offer you grace.

I see you through my compassionate heart.

I have compassion for your wounds.

I nourish your Spirit.

I love your True Essence, for It is Good.”

*Perhaps you say this to another person today.

All my love and compassion,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.