Juzbi VA

Recognizing the sacred
Recognizing the sacred feels different than recognizing the beauty in all things. 

To recognize the beauty in all things, when that’s not the energetic or mental space in which I’m in, almost feels like a spiritual bypassing.  “Just see the beauty,” “good vibes only,” and “just look on the bright side”.  I love good vibes too, don’t get me wrong, but, I am also human, with some less than good moments. 

 

In those ‘less than good moments,’ I personally feel that we have to become our own care takers, our own guru (more on this later).  We have to support ourselves with all of our tools and make use of our awareness. Then we can begin to remove the darkness that we are experiencing. And in its removal we experience the re-membering of our True Self. 

 

*Remember in the space between us and what we are aware of is always compassion. Read my last blog about that here. So, this week instead of recognizing the beauty in all things, the practice to recognize the divine in all things!  To see everything, including yourself, as sacred.

 

After you go back and read my last blog about recognizing the truth of a lived experience and the compassionate space between, return here. The reason I say this is because that is one of the first steps for removing the darkness.

 

Awareness and compassion become our first gurus in our journey for self-healing and removing the darkness.  Even as I write “self-healing”, I want you to know, dear reader, that you’re actually not doing this alone at all. Because the divine, universal love, permeates everything.
 

Sometimes, however, our lived experience doesn’t support us in recognizing that all is sacred, even the dark.

 

How is it sacred that people are dying from the climate crisis? How is it sacred that people are dying from war? How is it sacred that people are dying because of personal choice and preference? How is it sacred that others are abusing their power over others?

 

After years of contemplation, and I continue to contemplate these questions still today, my only answer to this is for the learning, transformation, and evolutionary healing. That we all come to “see”, darshan, what these events show us and how we can change, heal, and transform from them. 

 

Those questions I asked above are very weighty. And that is what guru can translate as, “heavy or weighty”. 

 

Meaning of Guru

Guru means the heaviness and the weight WITH wisdom. ‘Gu’ holds the meaning of “darkness”, and ‘ru’ the meaning of “dispel”.  Guru shares and teaches wisdom of values, ethics, and practices, alleviating the suffering and weight to dispel the darkness and move us into the Light. That Light is always shining. 

 

If we are to dispel the darkness of all of these evils of the world, we must have clear vision. We must see our Self as that Light. We must see each other and all beings, all creatures, all things, and everything on earth, even earth itself, as divine and sacred. 

 

So we start with awareness and compassion. These two wings of the One bird is what I’ve learned from Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach.We start with awareness and compassion so that we can step out of the darkness long enough to see truth, values, and what is so dearly important to every being; to be respected and loved. 

 

I consciously put the word respected there because sometimes we might not love somebody, we might not agree with them, we might even feel hatred towards them, but we can recognize our emotion of hatred and still offer respect. And then we can better resolve and heal our own nervous system through releasing that hatred and anger and other emotions that we feel because we have already previously set an intention to be seeing each other through the lens of respect. We complete our own stress cycle even when we might not be able to stop the stressful situation, or move away from a stressful person.*

*If you want to learn more about this, let me know!

 

So, I was not surprised, only feeling pleasant synchronicity, when I went back to look for the definitions of “sacred”.  I found that one of the definitions is “entitled to reverence and respect”. -Brittanica

 

Will you set an intention for this week, with me, to approach and interact with everyone from a place of respect? (I’ve already started and the responses have been profound already.)

 

In yoga there is a term that has caused some ripples in the yoga communities here in the west for some time. This term has gotten a lot of heat in the press. The term is namaste.

What do you know about this term? What comes up for you?

 

The real meaning of Namaste

Because it became such a popular term and used so widely in the west without deep understanding of its origins, a lot of South Asian, Indian, and other certain people of color, became angered because of the use of a word that they have had in their culture for thousands of years.  And rightly so to be angered when the term has been appropriated across tote bags and t-shirts and more. And, when the phrase and term has been turned into other catch phrases such as “nama-slay” and “na-amma stay”. I am guilty of once using “mama-stay” over 7 years ago when I became a mother. I am sorry.

 

I am clearly sharing some of my personal disheartened frustration around how a culture that I grew up in has disrespected another culture. I’m not saying everyone has done it, but a lot of people have.

 

But without going deeper into appropriation during this blog, I want to stick with the theme, because if we truly are to recognize the sacred in each other, we will also practice not doing harm to each other. And that includes our languages, the way we dress, the way we express ourself in the world, our religious practices, our non-religious practices, and everything else that a person expresses. You must always first hold a sense of wonder, offer our awareness and compassion, and open our hearts.

 

However if you want to get an understanding of how yoga is appropriated in some parts of North America causing harm and disrespect, I encourage you to read my virtual assistant and fellow yoga teacher Juzbi’s blog here

 

Namaste, according to Subhannoy Das, is “a way of showing respect and that you are equal to one another.”- Das, read his article here.

 

‘Namas’ means “not”(na) and “I or mine”(mamah). ‘Te’ means “to you”.

Not I, but we; we are same, we are equal, we are made of the same star dust.

 

Madhav Deshpande, a professor emeritus of Sanskrit and linguistics from the University of Michigan states:

 

“The first part of namaste comes from “namaha,” a Sanskrit verb that originally meant “to bend.” Deshpande says, “Bending is a sign of submission to authority or showing some respect to some superior entity.” Over time, “namaha” went from meaning “to bend” to meaning “salutations” or “greetings.”

 

The “te” in namaste means “to you,” Deshpande says. So all together, namaste literally means “greetings to you.” In the Vedas, namaste mostly occurs as a salutation to a divinity.” – taken from an article by Kumari Devarashan. You can read it here.

 

Namaste, date backs to the Rigveda, one of the oldest Vedic texts. To hear professor Deshpande share with us that it was mostly used as a salutation to a divinity, means that as we give this salutation to each other, we are recognizing each other’s sacredness. And this is my belief. That as I say namaste, I am seeing you with the utmost respect.

 

And seeing you with the utmost respect circles me back to the term darshan. Darshan meaning seeing. Darshanam means seeing a divine being or having the site of an auspicious or holy person. To see a picture of them, to see them in person, to see them as vision in your meditation, a darshanam.

 

Every morning, if you have a mirror, can you look back at yourself in the mirror and say from your heart, namaste? Can you look back at yourself in the mirror and see the sacred being that you are, deserving of your own, and others, utmost respect?

 

And then can you step out your door and offer the same view to everyone else? As you see them, you see yourself, and you see the cherished essence of each person?

 

In their opening convocation address in August of 2020 to St. Olaf colege, Anantananda Rambachan said:

“Diversity is not here problematized (in the Hindu sacred texts of the Upanishads). Diversity is an expression of the intentionality of the one; it is a celebrative outpouring of the joyous fullness of the divine. God’s capacity for bringing forth difference as self-expression is inexhaustible.

 

The Upanishads, however, do not stop here. They tell us more. They teach that after bringing forth this wondrous diversity out of itself, the divine is present equally in every being; everyone and everything is enfolded most intimately in God.

 

Nothing exists outside of God and nothing exists but for the fact that it receives the gift of moment to moment sustenance from God. In the words of the sacred Bhagavad Gita, everything rests in the divine like radiant jewels strung on a single thread.”-from ‘Darshan: The challenges in seeing the divine in all’

So how beautiful and sweet it was to wake up this morning, be going about my day and then coming home, only to find a message from one of my ‘Inner Strength’ women! The message had embedded this song:

 

One of my favorite lines from it:

” What’s so amazing

That keeps us stargazing?

And what do we think we might see?

Someday we’ll find it,

The rainbow connection.

The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”

Coincidence? I don’t think so. A sacred happening, upon a sacred day, between sacred Beings!

And now it gets passed on to you, dear Guru. 

 

Maybe you’ll join me this weekend for classes where we will do some eye exercises and some meditation so that we can see and come to recognize and respect the sacred within all things.

 

As Alicia Keys sang, “we’re the authors of forever”!  Let’s change the world, starting with our own hearts and minds!  minds!

 

Namaste,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.

 

P.S. we will be using the Anjali Mudra.  The mudra of “offering”. See me in the picture holding the gesture. 

 

I love how Siva Rea describes it:

“Anjali mudra is used as a posture of composure, of returning to one’s heart, whether you are greeting someone or saying goodbye, initiating or completing an action. As you bring your hands together at your center, you are literally connecting the right and left hemispheres of your brain. This is the yogic process of unification, the yoking of our active and receptive natures. In the yogic view of the body, the energetic or spiritual heart is visualized as a lotus at the center of the chest. Anjali mudra nourishes this lotus heart with awareness, gently encouraging it to open as water and light do a flower.”

Contentment can be present to all of us right now

I had pre-planned this third week of the month around the theme of ‘recognition’ to be recognizing the beauty and good in all things.

 

WELL, that wasn’t going to happen because I wasn’t seeing it, lol!  

 

And so, in the honesty of what my experience was the previous week, I caught a little glimpse of something I had written two weeks prior while creating the whole scope of this month for recognition; “recognize the good in the world and nature, that is truth.”

 

What stood out to me was the word ‘truth’. 

 

Because the truth, satya in Sanskrit, of what I was experiencing was not really a feeling of beauty and love of myself and the world. The truth of my experience was that I was really recognizing how misaligned I felt.

 

In my body, I knew I needed it, the poem.  Here it is…

 

Intimate With All Things

By: Danna Faulds

 

The Buddha said, “I am

intimate with all things.”

Imagine that. To be on

the same close terms with

suffering and panic as bliss

and rapture; to know the

souls of water buffalo as

surely as my own; to push

away nothing; to let the

sweet or bitter taste of

life linger; to see the

Beloved in everything –

and when that isn’t my

experience, to be intimate

with self-hatred, unmet

preferences and the many

ways I don’t show up as

saintly.  Imagine that.

 

Phew…a few tears, some deep sighs, and a margarita on one occasion. It’s ok.  You’re ok.  I am ok.  And yes, it’s ok to not be ok.  

 

This is how it came to be that this week’s class was all about recognizing the truth of your experience. The truth of the experience itself, and the truth of you in the lived experience.

 

Nowadays, I continue to giggle about what came through in a class… that it’s the awareness of what you are aware of.  An “awareness of awareness itself.”  And how this creates space, even a distance, between our calm center, and the things that we’re feeling and experiencing.  

That space is filled with compassion and the divine.

 

“Santosha invites us into contentment by taking refuge and a calm center, opening our hearts in gratitude for what we do have, and practicing the paradox of ‘not seeking’.”

-Deborah Adele

 

I can’t specifically remember who said it, but in essence the feel of a profound quote around santosha is to ask the question, “can I fall in love with my own life?”

 

Are you content in your life? 

 

I always remind myself how contentment is not giving over to what is and giving up.  Contentment, with all other practices within the scope of life and yoga, still invites us into action. 

 

So are you happy with the actions you’re taking in your life? Are you accepting of things, no matter what happens? Are you using the practice of gratitude for what you do have? If not, it’s okay. I invite you into the beginning of practicing gratitude and contentment in your life today.

 

I’ve been discovering this week that that compassionate and divine space only supports me as I am aware of what I am aware of.

 

My real life story of how I experienced this:

 

One evening while brushing my teeth, it dawned on me just how much I was missing my children. In my home and in my family there’s been a lot of change because my 3-year-old and 7-year-old are now both in school. And they are in two different schools. 

 

I practice gratitude that both of them are receiving an education. Gratitude that they have these safe and supportive spaces to go to every day and to learn and grow and play. And at the same time I need to have Max picked up because I can’t be two places at once. And as I’m grateful for Warriors Taekwondo to pick him up and give him yet another safe place to go and have snack and have support with his homework and have a Taekwondo class, I’ve lost those after school hours that used to be just me and the kids.

 

Now, I’m grateful to have that alone time with  Quinn, but I’m missing Max. And what I realized is that part of me was sad. Part of me was grieving. And that sadness hadn’t been processed. The ever-changing development of life and how my kids are growing and what that means for them and what it means for me and what it means for family dynamics and time, I hadn’t had time to just have an awareness of how I was feeling. And by now it was affecting me in negative ways.

 

However, while brushing my teeth, having this awareness and realization, the insight was so helpful. It moved me into that compassionate space between my calm center and the experiences and the emotions. It allowed me to take a bird’s eye view of everything and to simultaneously be able to tell myself it’s okay. It’s okay to feel sad. And whatever you want to do to heal is okay.

 

And I say all these same things to you dear reader. As I say all these things tell all of my clients and students.

 

To inspire awareness. 

 

And from the awareness so much can change. 

 

We might just soften, and our hearts open, and that can be enough. And other times we will become aware of a situation or emotion and we will choose to take action towards resilience and healing and love. 

 

Mandy Hale wrote,

“happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.”

And I would have to say, just for myself, that’s where I’m landing these days. It’s not always easy, but through recognizing the truth of all that I’m feeling and experiencing, it is bringing more peace.

 

“Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

-Lao Tzu

 

Or as the Beatles say, “Let it be.”

 

Through the example of my story, perhaps you were able to see how I became intimate with myself, my sadness, my emotions, my experiences. Deborah Adele’s poem, for me, has always been a balm for my soul. And to think that I could know the soul of a water buffalo as intimately as my own strikes me every time I read it, every time I think about it.  And to just be intimate with all things.

 

Anais Nin said,

“My mission, should I choose to accept. It, is to find peace with exactly who and what I am. To take pride in my thoughts, my appearance, my talents, my flaws, and to stop this incessant worrying that I cannot be loved as I am.”

 

What if you applied santosha, contentment, to every aspect of your life? Even as you remember your past, even as you strive towards your beautiful future, and even as you notice what your experience is right this moment, can you be aware of all of it without seeking anything different than what is, and how it all unfolds?

 

Throughout the flow of these words, and the flow of all of my classes, and the flow of just awareness for what is and acceptance of the truth of what is, I find that calm center. 

 

You can find that calm center within you that is everlasting.  And when you touch that calm center, and you look back out, what do you see?

 

For me, I’m able to see without judgment, without fixing, without expectation. I’m able to see what is and in that moment I’m also able to see just how much I have choice.

 

I can choose to allow an experience or an emotion to succumb me and take over to the point where I become stuck or frozen. Or I can choose just to be okay with it and let it be, and focus on the next task at hand in my day; revisiting the emotion or situation when I’m more grounded and centered. Or, I can choose to change either my own perception, or, if possible, I can change the whole situation.

 

And even when I act to change a situation for the betterment of myself and all beings, to be content with not seeking that it happens a certain way. To practice that paradox of not seeking that things go my way. And to fall back into that compassionate and divine space, calm core of my infinite self, and to be content with all that is.

 

So I ended each class with this poem…

 

Joy For No Reason

By: Danna Faulds

 

I am filled with quiet

joy for no reason save

the fact that I’m alive.

The message I receive

is clear – there’s no time

to lose from loving, no

place but here to offer

kindness, no day but this

to be my true, unfettered

self and pass the flame

from heart to heart.  This

is the only moment that

exists – so simple, so

exquisite, and so real.

 

All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.

 

The power of intuition

Something doesn’t feel right. There’s a little rumbling in your stomach, your eyebrows start to furl and your eyes start to look around. Your energy feels a little unsettled.  As you notice all these physical and energetic sensations within yourself, your mind starts to become curious.

There’s a sense you have at this moment that’s hard to explain. It’s something that you feel and “know”, it’s just hard to describe with words.  


Perhaps you felt this way about a physical space, another person, or even something someone asked you to do. If you’ve ever had an experience like this, what was your choice in that moment? What happened afterwards?


Or maybe you’ve experienced the opposite.


This all feels completely incredible! Your body is tingling with a positive vibration that feels grounded, real, alive.  You can feel your heart beating with a solid steady pace, maybe it even quickens a little. You feel strong and capable. Anything is possible at this moment! You’re knowing is clear, your focus is definitive, and you aren’t questioning yourself.


You ‘know’ this moment right now is right. It feels so resonant that you begin to be curious about the possibilities, and begin to envision the future.


Have you ever had that experience in your life?  What happened during and after your experience?


Your intuition, your highest self, communicates with you in many different ways.

Ways. Your higher self is always on the lookout for you. Your true self has the best intentions for you. You’re authentic and divine self. Only ever wants you to experience joy, peace, success, abundance, love, connections, and the life that you so deserve.


But don’t worry, if you’ve ever had a first impression, a ‘knowing’ that you should, for example, leave a situation, a person, or say no to a request from another person.  It’s ok.  I know I’ve done it numerous times in my life.  


These moments become lessons and growing edges that only strengthen our awareness of how our intuition speaks to us. These moments bring us closer to the knowing of our Self, and they show us how we can empower and uplift our own lives. 


Here’s the one ingredient that will help you recognize and stay connected with your intuition: Awareness!

But how do I become aware of my intuition when I have a million things to do, places to be, work to attend to, family asking me to do a million things, and my own “monkey mind” doing somersaults in my brain!  Phew!


Deep breath! Take one more deep breath.  What happened? Where did your awareness go during those breaths?


There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions. They are meant to bring you into awareness. See what I did there! 😉


There are many mindfulness practices and tools that I teach not only in my yoga classes, but that I offer and create with those whom I work with one-on-one. Mindfulness practices such as the breath that you experienced above, quickly checking in with how your physical body feels, noticing what your spiritual heart is sharing with you, and noticing the signs around you can all be ways in which we are dialoguing with our intuition.


I used to really feel that intuition was this “outside of myself and my body” idea that I just couldn’t grasp. Many people would say, “listen to your intuition”!  But, in my head I was rolling my eyes and thinking, “what are you talking about and how do I do that?”  I knew I wanted to listen to my intuition but I didn’t know how. And I knew I wanted to develop trust of my intuition, but I didn’t know the best route.


That’s when I began my journey with my intuition teacher, Kim Chesney. She, and her book, ‘Radical Intuition: a revolutionary guide to using your Inner power” Have really changed my life for the better! 


I can definitively now say that one of the top ingredients for living your most fulfilling life is…Using your intuition!

“Radical intuition is not about learning a new system; it is about becoming aware of the system that you have already been using for your whole life. Once you are aware of it, you can own it.”

-Kim Chesney

And there it is again, awareness.


When we have an awareness, a recognition, of our self in all layers of our being, we will have an awareness of our true self. True self, authentic self, higher self, divine self, these are all synonyms for intuition.


Some of us will experience our intuition most easefully from our physical body. Others of us will feel most connected to our intuition through our spiritual heart. Others of us will feel most easily connected to our intuition through our abilities of foresight and mind. And yet others of us still will feel most connected through a higher awareness, a transcendental energy.


Though your intuition may be experienced more readily through your body, all of us have the availability to connect with our intuition through all our layers of being. That’s where some practice can come in. And whether we choose to practice more intimately with our intuition or not, we all have the power to communicate with our intuition for the higher goodness of all were well-being and for others.

“True intelligence is to rise above thinking as the source of all intelligence.”

-Eckhart Tolle

 
You have the power of awareness that connects you to your highest self.

And when you are in alignment with your truest nature, how do you feel? Do you feel empowered? Do you feel powerful? Do you feel grounded and able to take on anything along your path?


Those are some of the things that I experience when I’m connected to my highest self. When my doubt of myself sheds away and I can step into the light with all of my confidence! When I am living from the place of my divine self, nothing can bother me and nothing can stop me. 

I have a bond with myself that is unshakable.


I have a way of staying, living in my center that is unwavering. And that way is with my intuition. 

This is why I chose the mudra of unshakable trust for this week’s classes.  It reminds us how we are an indestructible Being of Light force, and that we are unstoppable!  It gives us the energy of connection to our hearts.  It reminds us that when we are in alignment with our True Self, we are limitless, confident and can handle obstacles with grace, ease, fierce compassion, and more.


Vajrapradama mudra, “unshakeable trust” gesture, is so sweet and so powerful.

Vajrapradama mudra

Interlace your four fingers and leave your palms open. With your thumbs pointing towards the sky, rest your hands on your heart space. Let your shoulders and elbows drop, and begin to take some slow deep breaths. Notice what you notice in your body, thoughts, energy, heart, and spirit.  


How to use Vajrapradama mudra to exercise our intuition and gain clarity. 

If there’s something currently weighing on your heart, or a situation you’re living in right now that has and holds a lot of uncertainty around it, bring it into your mind.  Ask the divine for support. Let go of the expectation of receiving a definitive answer during this brief meditation, just keep asking for the support, the clarity, and guidance for yourself. And as you continue to ask, keep your awareness open.


Keep your awareness open throughout the time that you sit and breathe with the mudra. Notice your physical bodies sensations. 

Where are the sensations in your body?

Where are the most intense sensations, and where are the softest sensations? Do you notice an emotion arising? 

Where do you feel that emotion in your body? What do you sense from the emotion? Or maybe you notice thoughts. 


Perhaps you start to see visions in the screen of your mind’s eye.  Be curious about what you see and notice, and just can simply keep your awareness open.


You have the option after the meditation to think back on your experience and to notice what stood out the most to you. What were some of the first impressions of your experience in any layer of your being? And you can hold curiosity, with using your intuition, to feel if there’s meaning or correlation with your situation in life today. Not forcing to make a connection if there isn’t one, but just staying open and curious. And if there does happen to be a correlation, what might be the take away and the learning from it?


After this seated meditation practice and journaling, keep your awareness open throughout the rest of the following days. Perhaps you’ll see a sign in nature, a hawk flies by or a butterfly lands on your shoulder. Or, a literal sign, as a billboard, that will support you on your path so that you will become clear. Maybe you will keep hearing the same song over and over again, everywhere!  Or, maybe that old friend from years ago called out of the blue, and when they do their words touch your heart and give you love.  These are just a very few examples of intuition speaking to you from outside of yourself.  


Trust (think back to the mudra!) that you will know what is resonant, best, and true for you.  You WILL know what is loving for yourself. You will come to feel in alignment again.

Feel free to add these mantras:
“I have a bond with my Highest Self that is unshakeable.”
“I am open to receiving divine guidance.”
“I open my heart to the universe.”
“I am created from the Beyond and I trust in my highest self/divine nature/authentic self.”

Know that intuition might send you your own mantra to repeat.  One that is resonant to you, one that is for you at this time in your life. 

“There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis.”

-Malcolm Gladwell

Be patient. Be open and aware.

“Trust in yourself, then you will know how to live.”

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe 

Still a little uncertain?  Read my blog around discernment.


With my intuition and love,

Shawna Emerick

Breathe and Believe.

Part 4 of Embracing Support series

.

A picture depicting the gift of receiving support

When was the last time you allowed yourself to receive support?

 

Hopefully your experience of receiving support was positive. Though I’m thinking of times where people will offer their unsolicited advice, and even with the best of intentions, it does not feel like help or support. But this is where even the act of giving support needs to be done with mindfulness and an open heart. I’m thinking of the ‘Platinum Rule’, something I learned about two years ago through Sam Killerman’s book, “A Guide to Gender: the social justice advocates handbook”.

 

The platinum rule is different from the golden rule.

The golden rule says to do unto others as you would have done to yourself. The Platinum rule invites us to do unto others as they would like to have done unto them. Sometimes what one person needs is not something that we would want or need. And this invites us to ASK! 

 

How beautiful is that! That in this series on embracing support, even in giving support we can be asking. That instead of assuming what we think the other person needs, that we ask what they need. This gives the other person, the autonomy and empowerment to speak their need.  

My invitation to you right here, to circle back to all of the blogs in this series. From the first one around self-acceptance to the second one on presencing and getting clear on what we need, and the third one around asking. This last installment is about allowing yourself to receive.

 

Knowing your worthiness in receiving.

This is the blog that completes the series, and yet opens up so much more in a continual healing journey. This has been a journey about loving yourself without any conditions. It’s a journey about getting quiet and really seeing all parts of yourself (*new series on recognition starting next week in all my classes; and it starts with recognizing yourself).  It’s a journey on supporting yourself, and supporting yourself enough to ask. It’s a journey about knowing your worthiness in receiving.

 

So you might be wondering why I started this blog around receiving with really speaking to how we might be giving. And yet, when we are reminded to ask the other person what they might need, this means that we must go back to being clear within ourselves to know what we need in order to ask and therefore receive.

 

So what happens when we receive what we asked for?

And what happens when we are given a beautiful gift that we did not ask for? How do you receive? Can you receive? Can you receive without feeling the need to give back?

I’ve been asking myself the question why it feels hard to receive support more often than not. And then I’ve discovered this beautiful poem by Reverend James A. Forbes, Jr., entitled ‘Poem about receiving and giving’:

I’m a novice when it comes to receiving.

Giving has become my second expertise,

But giving a loan without getting

Become soon if fatal disease.

 

If the intake valve is not opened

There’s no way to maintain a supply

There comes a point in a cycle of life

Where the outgoing stream runs dry.

 

Straining out love from a vacuum

Is like drinking from the heart of a stone.

Try as we may, at the end of the day,

We are exhausted, frustrated, alone.

 

‘Better to give than to receive’, We are taught

Yet another truth I’ve learnt just by living:

Only the soul with the grace to receive,

Excels in the fine art of giving.

I love the beauty and simplicity of this poem. I love its direct statement towards the acts of receiving and giving. I love its clear naming that only when we keep a valve open to receive, can we truly give.

 

The Yoga of receiving 

Sally Kempton wrote a beautiful article on the yoga of receiving, I really invite you to read it. 

 

In her article she writes, “receiving is a yoga in itself – one that demands a high degree of sensitivity, awareness, and even skillfulness.” And I have only discovered this to be so true.

 

She lays out a beautiful four part flow around receiving. And I found this funny and resonant because I have just completed this four part series around embracing support. And, it really goes to show how even within the four parts of embracing support that I’ve laid out, there are so many deep dives that we could go into each part.

 

The four parts that she lays out are:

  • Recognizing you’re being given a gift
  • Being open to receive
  • Appreciating, even if just the intention*
  • Feeling and knowing you deserve it

One of the highlighted takeaways that I really received from her article was to be present to the giver and really recognize their light, which she calls their ‘holiness’, and to perceive them as a teacher and a bearer of Light. 

 

The energy of blessing

the energy of blessing

 

And, not only might they be a guru, bearer of Light, for you, this means that the gift is filled with, as she calls it,”the energy of blessing”.  So their gift is infused with an energy of blessing.

 

  *Even when we might not like their gift, even when we might not want their gift, can we recognize the giver in their Light and just be open to receiving?  I have to admit that this doesn’t fully resonate with me, but I am open to receiving what this sentiment is saying. And I want to support each of us and remembering that it’s okay to ask for what we need; because maybe what we need to be asking for is to ask the other person to stop giving. 

 

The example that I am clearly thinking of here is how people will often continue to give you their unsolicited advice on parenting. And they might continue to give their advice on parenting, but it might not always be welcome because it doesn’t align with your parenting style. And I’ll be the first to say that this can be challenging, but it just reignites the need for self-acceptance, presencing and naming what you need, asking with kindness in your heart for yourself and the other, and really allowing yourself to receive the boon of what you’re asking for.

 

I do want to note that what Sally is talking about in terms of the gift, is a genuine gift from somebody with good and positive intentions and who holds a positive regard for you.

 

She goes on to write about how the Latin root word of receive, recipere, means ‘to take back’ or ‘accept’. So beautiful to me how in receiving we are taking back and accepting our own light. How so, you might ask? As I am a believer in each of us having the hearts thread connection of Oneness, and that the light in me is the light in you, and the divine in me is the divine in you. 

 

The light in me is the light in you

When we receive, we are receiving back the light that we need, and the light that we give out.

Sally writes it beautifully here, “In fact, the word “receive” comes from the Latin word recipere, which means “to take back.” This implies that what we receive is already ours in the sense that we do, indeed, deserve it, that it completes something within us, or simply that we’ve attracted it by the nature of our being.”

“When we aren’t able to receive a genuine and heartfelt gift, we subtly upset the balance of the cosmos. One of the core Vedic understandings is that life is based on exchange, the dynamic interaction of giving and receiving.”

-Sally Kempton

 

There are many reasons why one might not be able to receive so open-heartedly. There might be a childhood trauma, there might be the feelings of unworthiness, or the belief that one does not deserve it. But I invite you this week, and always, to allow yourself to receive those heartfelt compliments, those heartfelt gifts, and those supportive moments when we’ve asked and receive what we need.

 

I’d love to hear from you. When have you recently received, and really truly allowed yourself to accept the gift?

 

All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.

 

Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the 4-Part series. 

Part 3 of Embracing Support series 

Is asking the hardest part, or being honest with oneself that you need support?

I think both could potentially be equally as hard because both can bring up shame and unworthiness. 

 

But what if you never asked for support?

Sometimes we can receive it out of nowhere, without asking, and it feels more harmful than helpful. Others can give to us from the kindness of their hearts unexpectedly and it is incredibly beneficial, more than we could imagine.

 

I will NEVER forget when my boss, while working at a coffee shop in NYC, paid for a month of my health care out of his pocket! Why did he do it? Mostly because he has one of the most loving hearts that I’ve ever met. And also because I was traveling for a month out of the country to attend my first Yoga teacher training! Thanks Marc T., I love you and my coffee shop family to this day.

 

Now in the case of my coffee house boss, I hadn’t even thought of the possibility of somebody supporting me financially while I was gone. I didn’t ask because I hadn’t even thought of the question and possibility. And in this same thread, sometimes in the asking more possibilities are presented because now we have a collective consciousness from which we’re drawing from.

 

But, I also want to honor those moments where we might be too afraid to ask because we’re afraid of what the answer might be. This fear is coming because we are making up a scenario that we ultimately have no control over.  And, we are possibly making assumptions about a person that, again, we have no control over.

 

Where we do have control is in the asking.

Call it ‘asking’, ‘prayer’, ‘longing’, ‘for guidance’, or ‘request’. Whether we’re asking for something tangible, or sending out the request for our life to transform in some positive way to the Universe, the one thing that “to ask” seems to return back to is to One’s Self.

 

Before the actual making of the request, we have to first come back to that self-acceptance, presencing ourself and acknowledging what is within us and around us in our situation and circumstance to be clear on what the request is, and then being courageous to speak it.

 

It is the giving of the request, the action of asking for what we need, that is the third part in the arc of this month’s theme around embracing support.

 

I have come to discover through conversations and explorations that the asking can bring up a lot of emotions for the person who is doing the asking.  Sarah Peck, of Start up Parent, has a great article about the ask! Read it here! In her article she speaks about confidence, mastering the pause, being audacious in your asking, keeping it simple, timing, asking multiple times, asking everyone, and practicing! I love the detail she goes into and some of the question examples. 

 

Sarah addresses a lot of good, real-world topics. I tend to get Spiritual, lol. She talks about asking to pick someone’s brain about things, and I also want to consider asking the Universe for support. However, one thing that these both have in common, yup, you guessed it, awareness and clarity. 

Ask for support but first find awareness and clarity.
Asking for support begins with awareness and clarity

Even here, in the third of four parts in this arc of embracing support, to become present is so key! We have to be clear with what we need/want in order to clearly state that need/desire in a simple and compassionate way. 

 

To be as clearly able to ask for the person at the door who is leaving, to hold the door open for us as we’re coming in with our arms full, as we are able to ask the Universe to support us in making a difficult decision to leave a job or not.

 

And we can oftentimes find that we already know the answer within ourselves even us we ask the questions. We just need to get quiet to hear that voice within; our intuition and wisdom, it’s our knowing.

 

Simultaneously, I’m hearing Rainer Maria Rilke’s quote in my mind of living the questions because we might not be able to live out the answers today. Read the full quote here.

Perhaps then the best thing to do is to stay present and curious, and to keep asking questions!  To keep living, and to “live everything” says Rilke.

 

And still yet another key aspect to remember is that you are still not alone!  

And you never have to do any of this alone.

 

You can always breathe with the divine. Even when asking to know your True Self more and to understand your own heart, you’re diving in with the divine breathing through your lungs and body.

 

Joseph Gassman wrote this short and poignant poem:

” She acts so strong … like stone

putting the needs of others ahead of her own

holding them up … the toll … unknown

She does not phone for help

she acts so strong …

just ask because you do not need

            to face these things alone.”

When was the last time that you really asked for help that you so desperately needed, instead of forcing yourself to go it “alone”?

” it’s been a few days since anyone asked how I am.

it’s been a few days since I said I’m all right.

it’s been a few months since anyone cared how I am.

it’s been a few months since I told the truth.”

-Mae

What could happen if you did ask? What if you don’t ask?

Recently I posted this video in my Instagram.  I say that if you don’t ask the answers always no. I want to challenge this idea that the answer is no. Because sometimes when we don’t ask something different happens. Sometimes if we don’t ask, the other person might come up with us offering what we were going to ask for. And sometimes if we don’t ask, a different event happens. Maybe I don’t ask to go get ice cream, but instead my family and I end up eating some chocolate chips.

 

And because I do believe the Universe is always listening to our hearts, even if we might not explicitly ask the universe for what we need and want, I believe the voice within our heart is heard. And sometimes, even when we don’t ask, we will receive; because our heart is known by the divine.

 

And, of course, when we don’t ask in that clear and specific way, sometimes we do end up with what we want and need. But it comes in the form, shape, experience, that we couldn’t imagine.

 

Intimate partnerships.
I found my intimate partner after knowing exactly what I was looking for

 

When I started to become really clear in the type of intimate partner that I wanted, I saw my relationships changing and evolving in the ways that I had hoped for. And still, I could never have imagined meeting the person who would become my life partner through online dating, and coming to meet the person that they are, and how our lives are unfolding together now.  Many aspects of our relationship have been very unexpected in the most beautiful and loving ways. And some of those unexpected ways have in return caused me to learn more about my self, both inward and outwardly.

 

Some of the healthful unlearning that I have done because of this marriage has actually allowed me to reach my own personal potentials, and in my own way.  

How fascinating is that! … I get clear on what I want (in a partner), and through the process of meeting (my life partner), I have actually opened myself up to deeper parts of myself; Allowing me to experience parts of my True Essence! 

 

This invites us to give gratitude to our self and to the person who we ask!  That I have overcome my fears, stepped into my worthiness, believed myself and my needs so that I can ask. As well as gratitude to the universe, to others, to whomever or wherever we have asked for the support and those places we receive it from.

 

Inside all of this I’ve come to discover we have lots of choices:
  • Choosing awareness.
  • Choosing curiosity.
  • How we choose to view our Self.
  • How we make the choice to choose our self by loving ourself enough to ask.
  • To choose to let go of shame and unworthiness.
  • To choose love.
  • How we choose to perceive ourself or any other person who’s asking for help.
  • Choice in how we perceive ‘asking’.
  • How we posture our self before the asking.
  • How we posture our self during the asking.
  • How we continue to hold ourselves after the asking, no matter the response.
  • Who we choose to ask.
  • When we do the asking.
  • Where we ask.
  • The words we choose while we’re asking.
  • Choosing our heart as the place from which we are asking.

How will you use this blog, dear reader? 

Has it reminded you of your worth?  Has it inspired you to ask?

Has it moved you to share it with someone you wish to help and support? 

Please do, pass it on, I am asking you to do so! 😉

 

All my love,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

P.S. Don’t forget to keep using the heart center mudra of the month with this all! Click here for the mudra.

Part 2 of Embracing Support series 

being in the present moment

As I lay in bed thinking about this week’s blog, I realize how privileged I am.  A quick explanation; This is the second part of a four-part blog series around embracing support. This week is about presencing ourself to be able to name what we need.

 

I am privileged to be able to have the space and time to actually self inquiry. To ask myself what I need beyond the basic rights of any human being. I do not live in a warring country, I have food, water, shelter, and I am not in a situation of need for protection, necessarily, beyond being a woman. I have choices.  

 

I write this because I want to acknowledge that for some, the need is immediate and clear.

I write this so we can all join together in stopping the systems of oppression, hatred, greed, and more, and instead, create a world where all Beings may thrive because all their basic human rights are being upheld and supported. 

 

And now the blog:

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

-Carl Rogers

We have this tool called awareness

This statement from Mr Rogers already is making the presumption that anyone is present enough to themselves to know how they are, to see their own reactions, and to observe what they would want their responses to be. To really step out of themselves and to take the witness frame of mind. 

 

This is a great tool that we have; witnessing our own thought patterns and habits. We have this tool of awareness that we can call upon to support ourselves in being deeply and authentically present to what is, both outside of our self and within our self. 

Awareness has always been one of the most important aspects, benefits, and practices of and from Yoga. 

 

This action of awareness in the moment is what I have started to call “Presencing”. 

It just came out in a class recently, and it felt good.  (There are a few definitions I have found for presencing, but the one that is most in alignment for the way I am using it is, “The act of bringing Oneself into the present moment.”-Macmillan dictionary)

Awareness can be a very challenging action too!  

 

Challenging because we might just come across witnessing within our own mind thoughts of self-doubt, self-dislike, unworthiness, and even self-hatred.  And we might witness thoughts of jealousy, wrong comparisons, hurtful judgement against others, disgust, negative ego, and more.  For support in this, go back to last week’s blog that was all about self-acceptance.

 

Through the act of becoming deeply present with our self, and honest in that heart centered look, we can then start to recognize where we’re holding our own self back. 

 

*Here’s where I caught myself for a moment. I was about to continue on in saying that it would allow us to see where ‘life is holding us back’. However, it is not life that is holding us back, it can only ever be our own beliefs, fears, expectations, or other self-judgments or self-doubt that could hold us back.

 

Life does not hold us back, life loves us, so why do we hold ourselves back?  

Why do we dim our own Light when we need support and won’t ask for it? {More on the asking next week!} As I said in a recent Instagram post, “you are not meant to go alone”! Watch it here, especially if you like ’80’s Rock! 

Take a moment to be with this poem…

 

‘Fear’ by Khalil Gibran:

“It is said that before entering the sea

a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,

from the peaks of the mountains,

the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

And in front of her,

she sees an ocean so vast,

that to enter

there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

But there is no other way.

The river can not go back.

Nobody can go back.

To go back is impossible in existence.

The river needs to take the risk

of entering the ocean

because only then will fear disappear,

because that’s where the river will know

it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,

but of becoming the ocean.”

 

The river was presencing herself. We know in her inner landscapes she is fearful, she is trembling. She is scared to go into the unknown. We hear how she is able to look back, and to see forward, by being in the here and now, and accepting all of it as it is.

 

Fear makes us lost from our True Self. 

Like the river at that moment, as she looked back and forward from a place of the fearful present, what do you need, dear reader, in order to leap?!

 

Some needs that I have discovered recently to support healing at any given moment, and perhaps they might resonate with you.  Notice what does or does not feel resonant in your body as you read, then write…

“To heal you have to get to the root of the wound and kiss it all the way up.”

 -Rupi Kaur

*I must love all of me. Love the shadows, the ingrained beliefs that are so false. I must look so deep that I may find the root and be able to then kiss, love, and accept it (then I can change! Just to circle back to Carl Rogers quote.)

“Could you plant

healing words

in my wounds?”

-poem by Alexandria Vasiliu

 

*A practice of constantly repeating healing and uplifting words to myself. Asking for a loved one to support me with their kind words and actions.

“Healing feels like a 

Stranger inside my body,

Until she gains the courage to

Remember she’s been

Here all along.”

-poem by Treena Orchard

*Moving my body so that I feel connected to my heart again, to my strength, to my love that I have to then give. Moving to refill my well and to remember.

There are miracles in me

Waiting their turn to happen

I am never giving up on myself.

-Rupi Kaur

*Just that, never giving up!  Believing in myself that I am worthy of support, and that I am worthy of abundance!  Having patience at times, persistence, and gratitude; especially with miracles. 

“When you are lost, that’s the best time to be found.”

-“The Littlest Families Big Day” children’s book by Emily Winfield Martin

 

*Allowing myself to be supported.  Allowing myself to just stay, and then be found. Trusting that I am taken care of, even when I feel lost, and that I will be found; and that I will come to know my own heart, know myself as whole, and find my True Self. 

“There are probably other incredible souls who will change your sense of what’s possible and will change your life in such beautiful ways, that are still out there, that we have yet to meet.”

-Ai-jen Poo

*Knowing the support is there. There are people out there WANTING to help me and you! And there are people RIGHT NOW in my life, and your life, that are showing us what is beautiful and possible. 

 
You now have a choice, dear reader.

Will you now ask for what you need? To flourish, to serve, to live the life of abundance, joy, and peace you SO deserve?

 

Next week I will dive into asking!

 

May you become present to the world around you and within you. May you begin to see and experience the support that’s here for you; both within yourself and around you. May you start to feel the love from life that is given to you. 

 

All my love,

Shawna

 

Read Part 3 of this Part 4 series on Embracing Support. 

Part 1 of Embracing Support series 

Embracing Support

In her book,”Radical Acceptance; embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha”, Tara Brach rights:

“For so many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much–Just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work–to make us feel that we are not okay.

As a friend of mine put it,”feeling that something is wrong with me is the invisible and toxic gas. I am always breathing.” When we experience our lives through this lens of personal insufficiency, we are imprisoned in what I call the trance of unworthiness. Trapped. In this trance, we are unable to perceive the truth of who we really are.

“We don’t have to wait until we are on our deathbed to realize what a waste of our precious lives. It is to carry the belief that something is wrong with us. Yeah, because our habits of feeling insufficient are so strong, awakening from the trance involves not only inner resolve, but also an active training of the heart and mind.”

This is the quote in which I started all of the classes in the first week of August. The reason for this; one of our beloved community members from Journey to the Peak  requested to spend a month on the topic of “embracing support”. Patrick and I said yes, wholeheartedly! 

I could already feel how important this month was going to be, and also how challenging. I felt that it’s reach was going to move my heart deeply. I hope that it will support and move your heart, too, in very healing ways.  

 

With the ideas already ruminating and floating around in my mind around support, worthiness, unworthiness, supporting oneself, receiving support, accepting support, I started to question what might come first? And of course, as a lot of wonderful thoughts do, it came in the bathroom one morning.

 

What Embracing Support means to me

With the idea of embracing support, it really feels as if there is an acceptance in seeing that support is needed. It presupposes there is a need. So, I began to contemplate an arc for the entire month.  It really started to feel cyclical as the weeks unfolded. Here are the bones of the arc that will be fleshed out through the next coming blogs:

 

  1. Self-acceptance.  Being present to Oneself enough to see what is going on, inside and out.  Accepting that there is a need, a desire, a limitation, a request, something missing, something we can’t do alone, something requiring the divine, ourselves, a friend, a community, or a contractor, lol.  Using satya and ahimsa to do so: truthfulness and non-harming, respectively, towards oneself.
  2. Naming.  Naming exactly what is needed. Being clear. Acknowledging.
  3. Asking.  Asking for the support, calling out for support, and/or calling in the support. Being brave in asking, and remembering that we are not less than because we need the support.
  4. Accepting the support. Allowing Oneself to receive.  Accepting the love, help, energy, prayers, money, gifts, condolences, meals, kindness from others.   Accepting these things from our own self to ourself. Accepting these things from the divine.  And in these acceptances observing how life shifts. Doing so with gratitude and realizing our oneness, not our separateness.

Perhaps now you can see why I started with Tara Brach’s quote. And how it seems interchangeable, the concept of self-acceptance with the ideas of worthiness and unworthiness. 

 

Why are we hesitant to ask for support?

I personally feel that here in the United States of America, there is an ethos of “pulling yourself up by the bootstrap” and getting things done by yourself. I’m even hearing the song in my head now… “Here I go again on my own, going down the only road I’ve ever known. Like a drifter I was born to walk alone.  But I’ve made up my mind, I’m not wasting no more time, here I go again.”-Whitesnake, 1987, watch here.

 

But, science is now proving just how much we are not meant to do this thing called life alone. And just how much it is detrimental to our health to try to go it alone. 

 

This study that was written about in 2017 found that, “Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.” This study is one of the world longest studies ever done for adult life. 

 

I can attest to the need for support, especially as a parent. I’m grateful for the freely given love and help of friendships that I forged after my son was born. I’m grateful for the support of friends and family during the past and now. I’m grateful for the support that I know I will receive in the future so that I can have an hour to myself, a date night with my partner, time to write these blogs, and time to pursue my own passions and curiosities!

 

Throughout this month, I want you to focus on you. Whow, what did you say?!  That’s right, turn your attention on yourself.

 

So, dear reader, where are you needing support? 

This is what this first week in this month is all about. Taking a very honest and truthful look at yourself and your life. Seeing yourself through your own, loving and compassionate heart. To speak to yourself with all honesty, Satya/truthfulness, and to do so in a way that is completely loving and not self-harming, ahimsa/non-harming.  

 

Do NOT judge what comes up.  Don’t shame yourself for whatever you might find.  This will only add a compounded weight to whatever judgements might already live around you needing support.  AND, who knows what this all might change in your life!  

 

Start with these mantras:

“I am here”

“I am breathing”

“My true nature is joy and love”

“My true Self is wise”

“This is what the body feels like as it’s breathing”

Stepping into awareness of oneself and offering loving kindness to yourself is perhaps the best way to begin looking within. When we breathe and notice that we are here, to notice that we are breathing, to notice that our body is breathing, to notice how our body is feeling, it begins to open up space for our consciousness to be aware of what is present within. We become the witness. We become a loving and non-judging observer.

 

From this place, we can begin to embrace all that we experience, all that we notice, and all we discover.  In my opinion, Parker Palmer said it very wisely:

“I now know myself to be a person of weakness and strength, liability and giftedness, darkness and light. I now know that to be whole means to reject none of it, but to embrace all of it.”

One of my most favorite poems is by Danna Faulds, entitled “intimate with all things”.

To be as intimate with our own pain, suffering, self-critic, internal voice of self-judgment, broken heart and aching body, as much as our own joy and happiness, excitement, voice of elevation and enlightenment, voice of our inner wisdom, and our wise body and knowing Spirit.

I closed the class with Tara Brach:

“When we practice radical acceptance, we begin with the fears and wounds of our own life and discover that our heart of compassion widens endlessly. In holding ourselves with compassion, we become free to love this living world. This is the blessing of radical acceptance: As we free ourselves from the suffering of “something is wrong with me,” we trust and express the fullness of who we are.”

To move away from the untruths that we are ‘broken’, that there is ‘something wrong with us’, that we are ‘not worthy’, that we are ‘not lovable’, and to move towards the truths of who we are.

 

To move towards the truths that we ARE lovable, that we are NOT broken, that we are SO worthy, that we ARE beautiful and NOTHING is wrong with us.  That we ARE divine, that we ARE magical, creative, fluid and gorgeous as we are!

 

To embrace and embody this, we closed with a tool for training the mind, which is called mantra in Yoga. The mantras I offered earlier, “my true essence is joy and love”, are actually the translations for this mantra that I now share with you in Sanskrit:

 

“Om Aim Namah”

*’Aim’ Is the seed sound for the goddess Saraswati.  Read my blog on her here.  I invite you to remember that as you create this vibration, what you are creating is all that she represents, which is all that you embody and hold within you. This is a vibration that is activating that which is in you that is wise and love, lovable and happy, joyful, your true self. 

 

Use the mantra with this heart chakra mudra, anahata mudra:

Softly extend all your fingers open. In each hand, separately, fold down the index finger into the palm. Cover the index finger with the thumb finger between the first and second knuckles.  

 

This is just one mudra that we can use in supporting ourselves and our heart. This gesture of the heart chakra is potent because it really focuses the energy back to yourself.  The index finger, in some lineages, represents air, the element connected with the heart chakra. It sends the universal life force of love back to our own heart. It truly is the gesture to use in upholding one’s worth, and really offering unconditional acceptance to oneself. I feel it is one of the lesser known mudras of the heart center, and yet is very profound. I am inviting everyone to use it for the entire month instead of just one week. 

 

In closing, we have to discern the untruth from truth. We have to really uphold our own light and train ourself in the ways of the mind and the heart and the body. This way we will be able to move away from the untruths and away from the ‘trance of unworthiness’, and towards the knowledge of our Self as Light, Universal, Love.

 

Are you ready dear reader?

Are you ready to step into this path with me?

To take on the challenge of looking at yourself in all honesty?

And to do so in a deeply committed, and deeply loving and supportive way?

I hope you have answered yes. 

 

I pray that in doing so, with yourself, within the community of belonging that you have with me and other human beings, that you will experience abundance, transformation, healing, and great flourishing in your life!

 

Love,

Shawna

P.S. And let’s not forget about perfectionism and the ego within the scope of this honest looking. You ARE worth gold and more! Let perfectionism go. Tell your ego your intention is pure and loving, and don’t let it tell you that you are not deserving of love and everything positive in return. 

 

Read Part 2 of this Part 4 series on Embracing Support. 

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

 

I was annoyed with myself, and even beginning to feel angry at myself.

 

I was in my 20s and had been living in New York for a little while. I wanted to travel and nourish my spirit with adventure! I wanted to go solo and create a pilgrimage of meaning. 

 

As a dancer, barista, yoga instructor, and emerging Thai massage therapist, I had managed to gather a little bit of money together but always thought that it wasn’t enough. Why did I keep procrastinating? It was only me who was holding myself back.

 

I began to make ritual of thought. And I have come to find, that I believe this is possible. That we can ritualize thoughts.

My daily practices, rituals, of thinking of traveling shifted towards the positive. I started to envision what the traveling experience would offer me. I started to speak to myself and to this desire in more expansive, open, and loving ways. It all started to feel much more close to my heart and accessible; I was going to make it happen!

And then I did it! I booked my flights to Thailand!

I could write many stories about my time in Thailand. And as a bodyworker, one of the reasons why I chose Thailand was so that I could study my craft!

Perhaps someday I’ll share more stories of Thailand, but in the theme of rituals, one of the most beautiful aspects to Thai massage are the rituals.

 

Here’s a snippet of how I ritualize my A.L.I.G.N sessions and Thai Bodywork:
 
 

Even before I connect physically with a body, I connect with my own. I make sure that I’m a little bit stretched, and that I am clear of mind and grounded in energy. When I meet my client, we take some time to connect and check in on where they’re at on that day. All of this is ritual; even setting up the space that they will enter into.  

 

And then one of the most sacred moments is just before I make my first physical contact. That is the moment where ritual is so potent. I invite the client to take some slow steady breaths, using the last breath to invite the knowledge that this is for the higher goodness of their own well-being. I sit at their feet, say a blessing for this work, and then look at their energy. I become an open channel for the work to happen.  

 

And then I ritualized the first touch. It is a grounding, firm, and loving connection so that safety, sacredness, and connection are present.

 

What are some of your rituals, dear reader?
What aligns you with your highest self as you move about your days?
What do you do on a daily basis that supports you in positive living?
 

 

Maybe it’s sipping your morning beverage, reading to your kids at night, rolling out your yoga mat, or saying a blessing at your altar space. Maybe it’s taking a moment with the picture of a beloved who has passed on. All of these are just examples of ritual. Call it practices, act, habit, or procedure if any of these resonate with you more.  

 

Some definitions of rituals I really love

I really love the way my dear friend, Lauren Mahana, defines ritual:

“Ritual by dogmatic definition is a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. In modern culture, we have begun to take back the meaning of what the word ritual implies.

She further writes:

Simply stated, a ritual is an action that creates a moment of sacred space for the commune of self with higher self. Taking this broader term we can apply ritual to everyday mundane actions that hold the strongest magic in our lives.

From our morning cup of coffee, and evening walk through the park, sitting in meditation, even sleeping in on a Sunday. These moments that create space for connection are deeply needed for spiritual and personal development.”

As I began to lead classes this week around the theme of ritual, I had no idea how many rituals are embedded in my day. Let alone one yoga practice. Think of those first grounding breaths when you start your yoga practice. Or that closing om. These moments, though brief, are some of the most important because they connect us to that higher self.  Think of that lovely savasana! 

Jack Kornfield writes in his book, “The wise heart: A guide to the universal teachings of Buddhist psychology”,

“The simplest gesture may become a ritual.”

Where in your day, dear reader can you envision a small, short act of breath to connect to yourself? 
And what thought would you like to add with that breath? Hint: make sure it’s a positive and supportive thought! 

Ritual comes from the Latin root word, ritus, which means “to fit together.”

 

Through daily practices, we are bringing all the pieces of ourselves into our wholeness. Through our daily actions and thoughts, we can connect and remember our Oneness. 

 

This reminds me of last week’s intention around slowing down and the Purna Mantra, read that blog here.

 

The 19th principal of Buddhist psychologies states:

“What we repeatedly think shapes our world. Out of compassion, substitute healthy thoughts for unhealthy ones.”

Rumi says the same but in a different way:

“When you go to a garden, do you look at thorns or flowers? Spend more time with roses and jasmine.”

There’s a large spectrum of daily practices and rituals that one could implement. But what’s most important is that you make them a practice.

You make it habit. You come home to it time and time again because you know how it makes you feel.  You know how it shifts your thoughts or your energy. You know how it affects how you feel in your body.

 

In yoga we talk very much about daily sadhana, or daily practices. There’s a whole spectrum of practices, the lengths of the practices, whether they have to do with the body or the mind or the breath, or whether they entail anything physical or not. 

 

A daily practice might look like connecting with a gemstone. It might be taking slow deep breaths. It could be sitting on a folded blanket to meditate.  

 

A daily ritual might be taking a breath and speaking and uplifting mantra to yourself as you take one step over the threshold of your front door. This is a ritual I learned in Thailand. They don’t necessarily do it every day out their front door, but you do have to step over the threshold of the entryway into a temple.  And the ritual of taking your shoes off before taking that step.  All of these processes even before entering the temple begin to connect you to that sacred place within yourself.

 

And that’s what ritual really all comes down to. Is to connect with what is. To connect to that higher self within. To remember what is important.

“Rituals can help us find our sense of purpose, to orient and support ourselves amidst the fragmented polls of our busy modern life.”

-Jack Kornfield

And when we connect, what healing is possible.

Rupi Kaur writes a beautiful poem:

To heal

You have to

Get to the root

Of the wound

And kiss it all the way up

What rituals could you implement today that support your healing process?

Because these rituals are also meant to support you and remembering that you’re not alone.

 

When I came to this next passage in Jack Kornfield’s book, I was nearly brought to tears.

“…(you) Do not carry your burden entirely by yourself.  The altar is a daily reminder of how the forces of compassion throughout the world uphold (your) dedication. We do not work alone for change; the power of life works with us.”

How incredibly beautiful and what a sacred gift and blessing.

 

All my love,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

 

P.S. – A student of just sent me a lovely article on How We Need Rituals, Not Routines. Hope you enjoy this read too.