Shawna Emerick

Last week in the topic around compassion, I was struck by these words out of Jack Kornfield’s book, “The Wise Heart'”:

“The courageous heart is the one that is unafraid to open to life without armoring. As the poet Rilke reminds us, “Ultimately it is on our vulnerability that we depend”.”

After having collected so many ‘tools’ for our backpack as we journey through life in these practices for the past couple of months, this quote was making me contemplate laying it all down. Laying down all of our tools,  thoughts, essences of self, and just stepping forth with wild abandon!  I have this image of a Being, naked and hair blowing in the wind, standing tall in the face of the thick and dangerous forest; holding nothing and yet so unafraid.  This Being exudes such grace, strength, love, boldness, and true sense of Self. 

What if you began to let go a little more each day of the things that you don’t need. What if you donated some of those clothes in the back of your closet? What if you cleaned out that cupboard of mugs that you rarely use? What if you let go of that belief that you’re not worthy of love? What if you quiet once and for all that voice that tells you you’re not capable?

Of course I think of Marie Kondo, and Minimalists, including my husband, but I also think of aparigraha, non-possessiveness.  If you want an INCREDIBLE organizer for your life, look no further than Inwood, NYC, by the way!  Call Amanda Sullivan, The Perfect Daughter, for ALL your needs!  I know from personal experience how wonderful she is!  She helped me organize my taxes before I had a husband that LOVED doing taxes, but she also will organize your house, closet, or whatever else you want to clear up!  And, buy her book, “Organized Enough: the anti-perfectionists guide to getting – and staying – organized”.  And, no, she doesn’t even know I am putting this in my blog, lol.  This is NOT a paid advertisement, lol!

Ok, back to your regularly scheduled programming…

Aparigraha Is one of the five yamas, or “restraints”, within the ethical practices of yoga as laid out by the sage Patanjali’s in his texts, the yoga sutras.  

In her book on the yamas and niyamas, the Deborah Adele writes, “What if we could trust life like we trust the breath? What if we could take in all the nourishment of the moment and then let it go fully, trusting that more nourishment will come?”-‘The Yamas & Niyamas: exploring yoga’s ethical practice’

What if we really and truly trust life is always sending us the next nourishing and supportive thing in perfect timing? In her book Deborah Adele introduces the idea of the trapeze artist; hence my trapeze pictures from 2012! Trusting, they have to let go and then be suspended for a brief moment midair as they reach for the next, and then take a hold. If they hold on too long they’ll miss the opportunity of receiving the next swinging bar that’s coming for them. So many questions pop up in my mind’s I am when I think of this, such as; How do we know when to let go? How can we trust our own innate timing more? How can we ultimately trust that the universe has our back?  How can I live with a sense of wild abandon?!  And to that I answer with this quote…

“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”-Buddha

To know we are life itself, to know we are love itself, to let go of the idea that there even is a path to begin with, this is to let go of that illusion. We are divine, we are life, we are the expansion and contraction and everything. We are this moment.  Trust. Use your intuition and discernment. Listen to your heart, it knows.

Rupi Kaur writes, “You do not belong to the future or the past, you belong right here.”


“Aparigraha invites us to practice divine play, experience full intimacy and contact with the moment, and then to let go so the next thing can come. It is how our adikara, or competency, grows and how we become more who we are capable of becoming.”-Deborah Adele.  We can build our competency and our capacity!  Capacity to let go and to be ever more present in each moment, present to life.

But even as I write those last words above, I feel and hear that innate whisper in my mind that this is a difficult task, to attempt to truly stay in the moment. As example, I’ve lived some really beautiful experiences in my lifetime and I’ve known some very difficult moments, but can I let go of the past? And, as another example, I have great dreams for the future of myself and my family! I don’t want to give up striving towards them. But this is where I think there’s a little distinction between surrender and non-grasping, at least in the way i am thinking about it these days…

To me, surrender is more of a giving over and a letting go in a way where there is less action. Aparigraha, non-grasping, causes me to feel that they’re still actions being taken. This is where the wild abandon comes into play. This is not abandonment. This is a wild abandon that is remembering that we have all the tools we ever need within us, we always have, and we always will. So we can step out boldly, not holding on to any idea of who we are or who we think we need or should be, or who we’re even becoming, but to just be all in in the moment, be fully present, and go for it!  What if we could trust life like we trust the breath?!  And if I am life, this means I’m trusting myself!  I belong here!

“Anything we cling to create some maintenance problem for us. The material items that we hoard, collect, buy because they are on sale or take because they are “free,” I’ll take up space and demand our attention. Storage boxes and sheds become an easy way to fool ourselves. Settle attachments come in the form of our images and beliefs about ourselves, about how life should be, about how others should be. These images keep us in bondage to our own learning and growth. Clutter in our physical space blocks our ability to physically move, while clutter in our minds blocks our freedom to expand and have space for the next thing life wants to bring to us.”- Deborah Adele

Out of her blog, Karen Karbo brings up the image of the big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton, and talks about wild abandon. He rides three-story tall waves! He has prepared and planned, but ultimately he has to let go and trust and feel and breathe. He has to ride the wave, he becomes the wave and the wave becomes him. There is no path, we are the path itself. He is all in! When was the last time you were all in? Was it on the dance floor at a party? Was it singing Happy Birthday for a friend? Was it having a serious talk with your partner or your children? Was it having a heart to heart with your parents? Was it soaking in a well-deserved bubble bath taking care of yourself? Was it sitting in meditation?  All these questions make me want to ask the one great question, when was the last time you were your authentic self?!

In classes we used Ganesha mudra and I would close the class with Ganesha’s mantra, ‘om gam ganapatayei namaha’.  Ganesha is the elephant deity who’s the remover of obstacles. Anything we hold on to is a maintenance problem said Deborah Adele, so may we remove the obstacles of seeing our self as less than, may we remove the obstacles of having too many physical items that we just never use, may we remove the obstacles of illusion, and may we dance freely sharing all of our beautiful colors to the world!

In some of my classes we worked up to the posture of svarga dvijasana, or bird of paradise pose. I love how ‘dvija’ means twice born. Even though the posture is named after the beautiful flower, birds are born twice. Once as the egg, but then the egg cracks revealing the raw, precious, infant bird who will continue to grow, spread its wings and fly!  Aparigraha and non-grasping makes me feel like cracking our own shells, dropping the armor, and allowing our self to be vulnerable. On our vulnerability we depend. Step out wild and free.

I ended most of the classes with this Gabrielle Roth quote, “In many semantic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: when did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”

Much Love,
Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

compassion

I love this simple picture of Max and Quinn.  He is holding her hand to both guide her and protect her from running into the street.  It was a reminder for compassionate acts of kindness and consideration that we can offer ourselves and each other.

As we continue on the journey of the essence of different tokens and magic to bring along in a journey, how could I forget one of the most important ones?!

Compassion. By definition compassion is ‘sympathy and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others'(Oxford). It’s also defined as ‘sympathetic consciousness of others distress together with a desire to alleviate it'(Miriam Webster).

After visiting action last week, I was in a real need for both emotional, as well as physical, space to soften.  I was thinking of synonyms to softening, relaxing, slowing down, practicing some self-care, things of that nature. It took a little bit of thought, but then I realized that this is all compassion. Offering myself compassion.

But then a week passed.  I wrote this blog, and had it as a saved draft in my emails.  A lot transpired in this past week. George Floyd’s case continued on as the officer, Derek Chauvin used the 5th amendment, and chose not to speak at his own trial for the death of George Floyd.  Duante Wright was shot by police, leaving his young son fatherless, and a mother and entire community grieving in Minnesota; the same city George Floyd was killed. And, 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario was peppered sprayed in his car, wearing his uniform, being asked to both keep his arms out of the car and to get out of the car at the same time.  All I can do right now is grieve with them.   Hold their grief in my heart with compassion, because God knows I want to alleviate their pain, bring their boys/sons/dads/uncles/husbands/partners back to life, but I can’t.  When I listened to Duante Wrights aunt speak, I balled.   When will this stop?  The racism, the hate, the brutality?  I don’t know when, but I pray it DOES.  And, I will continue with my compassion, as much as action to ending suffering for my Black, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Trans, Gay, Brown, People of Color, and more.  EVERY PERSON DESERVES TO FEEL AND KNOW THEIR WORTH, and to experience a life that is free and loving.

Jack Kornfield in his book “The Wise Heart: a guide to the universal teachings of Buddhist psychology,” writes that compassion is our deepest nature. It arises from our interconnection with all things. Immediately I think to my two-year-old, And how she can so innately notice if I’m sad, if I’m frustrated, or if I’m happy.  When she sees I’m sad, I see her body get still and her eyes continue to observe me. Sometimes she even comes over to me and just hugs me. Sometimes I have changed my appeared emotion so she doesn’t take on my pain.  The scientific proof of our compassion came in the way of discovering our mirror neurons.  In the 1980s the scientist by the name of Giacomo Rizzolatti, and his colleagues, had discovered some brain cells that were later called mirror neurons. They found that ‘we could actually feel the emotions, movements, and intentions of others’. Researchers talk about this natural empathy as part of our social brain that connects us intimately in every encounter we have with anyone.

In my classes during this week of intention around compassion, I invited people to practice specifically self-compassion.  Jack Kornfield writes, “compassion for our own fear and shame opens us to others,” and that “compassion is only a few breaths away”.  

I invite you to take a deep breath, deer reader. Take a moment to reflect on all you’ve done today, done in the past week, lived through in the past year, lived through in the course of your entire life up to this moment. You’re doing great things. You’re doing great things just by being a compassionate human being. You’re doing great things because you’re here. Your body is doing amazing things right now inside of you, your heart’s beating and your lungs are pumping. You’re doing big things! Offer compassion to yourself, offer compassion to your body, offer compassion to whatever emotion arises, offer compassion to whatever thought arises.  Now notice, what has changed through offering yourself compassion?

“The courageous heart is the one that is unafraid to open to the world. With compassion we come to trust our capacity to open to life without armoring. As the poet Rilke reminds us, “ultimately it is On our vulnerability that we depend.””-Jack Kornfield.  I feel here that vulnerability comes as way of openness, willingness, and availability.  When we can be compassionate to what is real and true within our hearts and within our self, then the armor falls. Just like when we are true and real in compassionate ways with others, the armor and the guardedness falls away.  We open to each other, when we open to our self.

“Living with compassion does not mean we have to give away all our possessions, take in every homeless person we meet, and fix every difficulty in our extended family and community. Compassion is not codependence. It does not mean we lose our self respect or sacrifice ourselves blindly for others. In the West we are confused about this point. We mistakenly fear that if we become too compassionate we will be overwhelmed by the suffering of others. But this happens only when our compassion is one-sided. In Buddhist psychology compassion is a circle that encompasses all beings, including ourselves. Compassion blossoms only when we remember ourselves and others, when the two sides are in harmony.
    Compassion is not foolish. It doesn’t just go along with what others want So they don’t feel bad. There is a yes in compassion, and there is also a no, said with the same courage apart. No to abuse, no to racism, no to violence, both personal and worldwide.  The no is said not out of hate but out of an unwavering care. Buddhists call this the fierce sword of compassion. It is the powerful no of leaving a destructive family, the agonizing know of allowing an addict to experience the consequences of his actions.
    Wherever it is practice, compassion brings us back to life.”-Jack Kornfield, ‘The Wise Heart’.

“With compassion one becomes courageous. Compassion brings triumph when attacked; It brings security when maintained.”-Tao Te Ching.  I personally have been really focusing on the last piece of Lao Tzu’s quote here from his wisdom, the Tao Te Ching.  All of last year, nothing felt secure nor maintained.  Rather, everything felt uncertain, scary, and at best, just trying to get by day-by-day.  The idea of stability, maintaining life, or maintaining a vacuumed floor or washed hair, seemed exhausting and not so possible.  But, when I practice compassion towards myself in the moments when I feel underwater, then I DO feel secure within the knowing of my heart, that everything will be ok; everything IS ok.  And, not only do I feel secure, I can choose to maintain the security thru maintaining the compassion.  

“Work with compassion intuitively. At times it may feel difficult, as though you might be overwhelmed by the pain. Remember, you’re not trying to fix the pain of the world, only hold it with a compassionate heart.”-Jack Kornfield, ‘The Wise Heart’

I invite you to sit with the Karuna mudra. Karuna is the Sanskrit term for compassion.  Cup your hands like the letter ‘C’, ‘c’ for compassion maybe?!  wink wink.  Then. place your left fingertips at the base of the right fingers, at the top of the palm.  Now, rotate your hands so that the right palm is facing out, left palm facing in. Right palm out is compassion for others, left palm facing in is compassion for yourself. 

If you like, use the mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum”.  The Dalai Lama’s meaning for this mantra is so beautiful; the be on a path of intention and method to be compassionate with wisdom.  Yes! Read it HERE.
om = om
mani = jewel
padme = lots
hum = indivisible

May we all continually offer compassion for ourselves, and compassion for one another.

Love,
Shawna

This week in my classes, after a hiatus in the month of March to be with goddesses during women’s history month, we are back inside the larger overarching intention of aspects needed when in the journey of life.  In the past, we’ve been through consideration of beginnings/starting a new, mastery versus success, surrender, and balance.  This week we take action!

 
Seated with the abahya mudra for fearlessness, protection, peace, dispelling fear, and following Dharma, we embarked in our practices into some kriya yoga. Kriya means “action, deed, effort”.  The beginning of patanjali’s second book in ‘The Yoga Sutras’ is all about practice, sadhana.  The practices laid out give a strong foundation for more subtler practices to follow, as well as the foundation for transformation and self-realization.  This second book starts out with the thread of wisdom that yoga in practice is a purification process, burning out negativity, blockages, old beliefs, and more.  It’s about having all these things removed so that we may meet our true essence within, we can know love.  Once we begin to understand this, but more importantly, to feel this, then it becomes easier to begin to take actions out in the world from an aligned place within our self.
 
“How wonderful it is that nobody need to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”-Anne Frank. You don’t need to wait a single moment because you’re reading these words now.  And in reading these words, hearing these words, receiving these words, you’re in the practice. You’re taking action to change your thoughts and focuses towards positive. It’s imperative to start within One’s Self in order to realize how you are truly affecting the world, and therefore improving the world because you’re doing your own inner work. This self-study and inner work is svadyaya.  
 
Svadyaya, with ishvara pranidhana/surrender, and tapas/to burn, are the three major components of kriya yoga. 
 
Throughout my classes this week I constantly invited people to name their experience in the moment.  Whether it was a physical sensation of their body they were experiencing, or an emotion, or naming a thought that was present, or just simply naming each inhale and exhale; this practice of naming the moment drew them into the moment. This is surrender, opening our heart to the moment, giving ourselves over to the moment and the experience. Letting go into the love of the universe and trusting that as we take action of learning our true essence, as well as stepping out into the world, when we do these things first from a place of alignment within our self, then we need not worry.
 
“Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.”-Amelia Earhart.  This quote remind me of the component of discernment that we explored with the goddess Saraswati, read it here; which requires of us to be in resonance with our head and heart.
 
Being in the moment also offers us the spaciousness of being able to move without the weight of the past upon our shoulders, as well as not being pulled into the future. We can just be here now.  By being present in our bodies, we were able to move and to open, to strengthen, as well as take action. Action not only in our consciousness and our hearts, but also in our bodies.
 
Action can come in many ways shapes and forms.
 
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
 
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means, keep moving.”-Martin Luther King Jr..  What incredible wisdom MLK, Jr. has.  The feeling that I get from this quote from Dr King is that no matter what your physical body may be capable or incapable of doing, you still can take action from the place within your heart and your mind. To always be choosing kindness, consideration, and compassion*.
*Compassion is next weeks class and blog!
 
Sometimes the transformation will come because of actions we take consciously and spiritually, and at other times the transformation will come because of actual physical movement and actions that we take out in the world.  “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”-Winston Churchill.
 
All of these practices from the mind, to the heart, to the body, burn out, “tapas,”  the negativity in the darkness within our self. All these practices are also the way to create, “tapas,” and lights the fire, the torch, that guides us to our deepest knowing of who we are ultimately, eternal and infinite.
 
“Stop being afraid of what can go wrong. Start being excited about what can go right.”-unknown
 
Align within your Self!
 
“Forget conventionalisms; forget what the world thinks of you stepping out of your place; I think your best thoughts, speak your best word, work your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval.”-Susan B Anthony
 
As much as I am a believer in our power of our thoughts and conscience, I’ve been loving this Irish proverb, “You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind”.  Sometimes, we just need to start, and take that first step in faith!  
 
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”-Wayne Gretzky
 
So, “whatever you do, always give a 100%. Unless you’re donating blood.”-Bill Murray
 
Love to all,
Shawna 
Breathe and Believe.
Lakshmi

Where do you see beauty around you right now? How do you remind yourself to see the beauty in all things?  Take a moment to reflect.

 
Now, I invite you to name at least one area of your life in which you are abundant. Are you abundant with the amount of shoes you have? Are you abundant with the amount of free time you have?  Are you abundant with love that you offer yourself and others?
 
The Goddess Lakshmi invites us to remember that abundance is our birthright. She is the Goddess of the abundance and beauty.  Her name means “She who leads to one’s goal”.  
Lakshmi arrived bringing the ‘nectar of immortality’ to all; self-realization is the goal of yoga and the knowledge of immortality of our essence is the nectar that she brings.  She brings with the nectar, four qualities that make transformation in our human world possible; dharma, kama, artha, and moksha.  She imparts these qualities and wisdoms so that we may experience that transcended state.  In our classes, we dove into the four qualities in the four hands that Lakshmi brings in order for transformation in human life possible; dharma/right way of living, kama/desires and longings, artha/purpose and wealth and goals, and moksha/transcendent state and liberation.
 
“I live in unlimited abundance.”
“I live in a universe of infinite supply.”
“I see beauty all around me.”
“I see the beauty within me.”
“I am abundant.”
Just a few mantras to try out; which one resonate with you most in this moment?  Is there another one that comes to you that you can make uniquely yours thru these suggestions?  Use the one that resonates most.
 
“The story of Lakshmi’s appearance conveys the essence of the journey of spiritual growth we all take sooner or later. In you and me, the churn of the ocean of consciousness is the conscious, self-willed transformational process in which we engage to produce spiritual growth. The Vedas and other Eastern spiritual texts all conclude that the end result of any truly spiritual transformational process is immortality.”-Thomas Ashley-Farrand, ‘Shakti mantras’.
 
When you feel lacking, unworthy, not beautiful in spirit or body, how do you turn the milky ocean of your consciousness towards abundance and beauty?  The way in which Lakshmi appeared, came because both demons and gods and goddesses alike had to work together in order to turn the milky ocean of consciousness. They knew that if they wanted the nectar of immortality, that they had to come together to turn the ocean powerfully enough so that the nectar would arrive. What I draw from this story and what I find beautiful about it, is that it is as if we must befriend our darkness, and our shadow sides, inviting them into the Light in order for the light and darkness to merge and for transformation to take place. In order for us to turn our thoughts always towards the Light, we must transform the darkness. Through this process we come to know our highest self, our eternal self.
 
“If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away.”-Mark Twain
 
So what happens when you truly feel like you’re at the end of the rope and have nothing left to give? Or just simply have nothing at all?  Here’s where I bring in Bryant McGill’s quote, “Abundance is the process of letting go; that which is empty can receive”.  
 
May you open your heart and shift your vision towards abundance and beauty, and in this spirit see how not only you can flourish, but everyone can flourish and thrive!
 
“Abundance is not something we acquire, it’s something we tune into.”-Wayne Dyer
 
Lakshmi invites you to meditate towards the world’s support and abundance. You could do this, if you’d like, while you’re simply walking down the street the next time you go outside. Are there birds chirping? Is someone laughing? Is a baby giggling? Just the other day my son and I went to the zoo.  We were in the kids petting zoo and I had not thought to bring cash in order to feed the animals. Before we knew it, this kind woman was handing us $0.50 so that Max could get some of the feed from the machine in order to enjoy having fun feeding the goats and the llamas. What abundance and beauty of heart!! 
 
And as for physical beauty I’ll leave you with this quote from Coco Chanel, “You can be gorgeous at 30, charming at 40, and irresistible for the rest of your life.”!!
 
 
Whether you’re able to see the beauty and abundance within yourself, and the beauty and abundance around you, or not, I invite you to keep practicing. Have patience, and keep going.  Next week’s blog is all about action!  And to remember Lakshmi’s companion, the white owl; for the owl represents patients, intelligence, and wisdom. A symbol of universal wisdom with the ability to see beauty in spite of the dark.
 
Love to all,
Shawna 
Breathe and Believe.
Kali

This past week, in the New York City part of the globe, was the spring equinox on March 20th. This is the festival of Ostara, the beginning of longer daylight time and the awakening of the earth with blossoms!

This is why we evoked the Kali essence within ourselves. Kali, pictured above, is known as the preserver of Earth and the embodiment of Mother Earth. She is considered mother of the world and the ‘treasure-house of compassion’.  She is considered the primordial mass from which all of life arose; we are all born from mother, from the womb of matter, though we are eternal.

All of these sound very beautiful and very wonderful, but Kali is often misunderstood simply because of the way she looks.  She’s often depicted having black or blue skin, her blood red tongue sticking out, her necklace made of skulls, and her skirt made of arm bones. She wields a sword and carries a severed head. The sword and the severed head are in her two left hands and in her two right hands she holds abhaya mudra for fearlessness and the varada mudra for blessings.  But when you come to understand what all of these representations symbolize, we come to understand her deep and infinite love and protection that she offers all of us.

She wears no finite or real clothing. She only adorns the skull necklace and the skirt of arms because she is infinite and pure, she needs no clothing because she is infinite in form. Her skin color of dark black or deep blue symbolizes how she is limitless, all pervading, and eternal.  I often envision the night sky when I hear this. Her very name, Kali, often is said to mean “she who is beyond time”.  Her name is also translated as “She who is black”.  

Her blood red tongue sticking out is her thirst to destroy all evil and evil doers in the world. In some Bengali traditions the blood red tongue is also symbolic of modesty. 

The sword that she wields is to destroy the ego and is also known as symbolic of higher knowledge. She supports us in severing our attachment with our ego and personality in order to fully understand and liberate, moksha/liberation, ourselves from the binds of illusion, or maya. 

The severed head supports very much the same, a detachment from ego.  

The skull necklace is meant for us to understand that we must ‘cut out the skeletons in our closet,’ meaning release secrets, stop hiding, understand who we truly are in our infinite form.  Then we must speak of Truth, live from a place of Light, honor, doing good, being kind, and Loving one’s Self as well as others and the planet. 

Kali helps us to more fully understand the natural cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. We can understand this at that finite and infinite level of birth, death, and rebirth. And we can also embody it down to the most simplest of forms of experiencing our breath. The four cycles of the breath of the exhale, the transition from exhale to inhale, the inhale, and the transition from the inhale to the exhale. And then it all starts again. We can also experience these cycles in our part of the globe through the cycles of the seasons. We can also experience many other forms of cycles even within one lifetime, call them the ‘seasons of Your Life’.  However, Kali helps us to understand that what some cycles of death and ending may appear as a loss, it is really the beginning of a positive new phase.

Kali is often shown stepping her right foot in front of the left.  This is a symbol that she is on the right spiritual path. Her mission is divine. Her mission is to protect, preserve, and to help pour the love of the universe into our hearts. This is why in our classes we embodied the Kali mudra, also sometimes called Ksepana mudra, which means “to pour out”. 

Kali Mudra Meditation: Clasp your hands together and interlace all of your fingers, then point only your index fingers forward, check down to make sure that the left thumb is on top of the right, and now you have Kali mudra.  Place the mudra in front of your solar plexus and allow your elbows to drop and your shoulders to sink down. Create a little lift through the front of your chest at your heart, sit quietly and feel. Notice what you notice. Notice what you feel coming from the energy of this gesture, mudra, of your hands as it’s energy runs up through your arms into your heart and gets pumped out into the rest of your body. For a couple of breaths, allow yourself to receive. Receive the love of the universe, the love of the divine mother, Kali, And the love of Mother Earth. After some time, focus on pouring out your love, and this universal love, from your heart towards yourself.  After some time, imagine this love pouring out from your heart through your index fingers and sending it to whomever or wherever you wish. And finally, after some time, imagine this love pouring out from yourself to the world at large, to all the plants and waters and air and elements, and to all of its creatures.

During parts of our physical practices in yoga this week, I invited people to imagine their own physical body as the body of our Earth. To embody another Earth. And to imagine what all of those elements and capabilities, powers, and supports felt like.  Mother Earth has destructive powers, this is why Kali is often called the “Dark Mother”.  She has destructive powers which are meant to eradicate evils of the world, to use her destruction for the betterment of all beings, and to end suffering.

A client of mine recently told me this quote that she had to received as a young girl from inside a fortune cookie: “the root of all unhappiness lies in comparison”.  I’ve also been taking a liking to this quote that comes from an unknown author: “The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment”.  And I’ve been tying all this in with a quote that comes from a shirt that I bought at Target many years ago: “a flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it, it just blossoms”.  perhaps what we need to cut out the most in our lives, what we need to sever, what we need to get rid of, what we need to let go of, what we need to re-evaluate and change is a judgment towards our self, or others, and to stop comparing ourselves to some made up illusion of what we think we should be, or the comparison of ourselves to another. I always come back to the quote from Donna Markova: “My path is not greater than or less than yours, it’s just the only one I know how to make authentically”.  Or as some other people say it, ‘you do you’!  Be yourself, be kind to others, and share your light to this world because we need you!

Now, as much as I love that quote about the flower in the weed and the difference being just a judgment, I also felt these words in this passage come through me this past week:
“Till the soil, pull the weeds, plant the seeds. Nourish life and love and watch what grows!”
Sometimes we must pull the weeds in order to clear space for what is meant to come alive and to blossom. Be that a flower, or be that something from deep within our hearts and our higher knowing. Liken this to spring cleaning if you will, or equate it to that old belief you know is not serving you anymore that you know you must cut out. And allow Kali to remind you that as one thing goes inevitably another thing enters. Or as my dear friend and creator of “The Empowered Publicity Podcast”, Amanda Berlin,  stated recently, “a void cannot exist”.  In the context of the things that we’re speaking to here, I found these words very potent and wise. As they say, ‘when one ending happens, another cycle is beginning’. Or as some say, ‘when one door closes, another one opens’.

Use the Kali mudra to help clear blockages, especially along your central channel line that we call the shushumna nadi, “gracious one”.  This will help support to create that clear path for freedom and liberation, and knowing one’s True Self. Use the Kali mudra to encourage positivity in your body as well as to create positive thoughts. To reduce distractions and to shear away negative thoughts. Use Kali mudra to reduce tension and to help build your life force and strength.

Before I close this very long blog, thank you for reading it all.  I felt two pieces of wisdom come forth in this week:

1.)  Sometimes I might not be leaving a scenario or a situation in my life because I was disrespected, but I might be leaving because I know I’m not best used there.  My path, my ‘right foot stepping in front of the left’ like Kali, and my resonance when I listen to my heart and not my head, is the place where I have the deepest resonance and the most power/impact/love to offer at my best. This might be when I recognize that I know I need to leave a certain situation, relationship, job, situation, or moment in my life so that I can stay true to my path. This is not always easy, nor will it always feel good. But, I can more easily feel the love pour in and pour out!
2.)  I would sometimes close the practices with this little meditation:
I call it the “Heart Seed Meditation”:  “Find a comfortable seated or lying position. Take some time to become quiet and slow your breath and still your body.  Once you feel a little bit more grounded and a little bit more relaxed, begin to guide your awareness towards your heart space. Your physical heart that is the ‘treasure-house of compassion’ and the home and temple of your spiritual heart.  Invite a little part of your heart to open so that love may pour in.  Look into this opening in your heart and gaze down, because you will find their lives a seed there. This seed of unconditional love was planted long before you were born in this physical form, and it is the essence that will be there long after you leave your physical form. That seed is you. It is love. It is your Essence. It is the essence, and the seed and energy of who you are that you leave behind whenever you interact with someone, or the planet. I invite you then to ask, how will you live? How will you love?  From this seed of love that is you, let it blossom.  Nourish it, love yourself, feed it, water it, hold it in the sunlight, and let it grow. Let the blossom become fruit. And allow the fruits of your essence to be those ripple effects out to others, all beings, and the world.  Let the fruits that you leave behind, be what will inevitably go on to be the planted seeds for the next generation. Be the good ancestor now.”

All my love and light,
Shawna
Breathe and Believe.
P.S. That’s me, below, in Virabhadrasana 1 with Kali mudra, and right foot in front, with the flower quote shirt on! I found it! LOL!

Shakti

Make a peace sign in your hands!  Now, place your index and middle fingers down over your thumb, and lift your ring and pinky fingers up; bring these two hands to meet and you now have Shakti mudra! Shakti Mudra.  This was our “Mudra Dance” that opened most of our practices this past week.  Breathe in Peace, and breathe out Love.  Hold the shakti mudra at your heart center and physically snuggle it into your chest. Sit quietly, breathe, and feel the energy.

Rumi: “Weeping, then laughing.  The power of love came to me, and I became fierce like a lion, then tender like the evening star.”

It was one year ago that everything shut down in New York City. I remember the date was actually March 14th to be exact. I had not read my emails and had boarded the A Subway train South to go teach a class in the afternoon. When I arrived at the studio, I was met by the beautiful Adina, only to hear the words that I would be teaching to an empty room and a screen. Sadly, that beloved studio, Mind Body Soul Yoga studio, has now completely closed. Our community stays strong.

It’s been a year, needless to say, of great transformation and change.  I thank Goddess that I was teaching the heart chakra the week that things closed down. I know it helped me, and others, through that immediate shock.

Sometimes I perceive this pandemic as shedding a Light on many things that needed to change. Both within myself, our country of the United States, the Yogic world, and the world at large.   And then other times, I deeply wish it had never happened. The loss is unbearable.

Energy that creates change, even when the change feels hard and difficult, is the energy of Shakti.  Shakti is “energy”. This energy is in us, and it’s all around us. Shakti is the personification of energy and power for good within us, around us, in the world, and beyond(Universe).  Personification is used in stories to make complex ideas more easier to understand.  Shakti has many various forms, and many different names.   However, Shakti is depicted as the Divine Feminine. She is the Divine Mother. This Shakti energy is a power of love. It’s the power of the heart, and it nurtures and supports. Even when the energy and the power pushes us, or challenges us in ways that we don’t like and that we are uncomfortable with, this change is inevitably always for our own betterment and the world. There is always a deep lesson that Shakti is showing us.

“What will you do if you discover you have real power? If all power is transitory and ephemeral, what effects do you want to leave behind, both within and without?  While we are each individuals, we are also one. That which binds us together is love. It seems to me the important question becomes: How can you achieve a state of Love other than by Loving?”-Thomas Ashley-Farrand, ‘Shakti mantras’.  I feel what Thomas is getting at here is, how will you Love?  What energetic essence of yourself do you want to leave in the world when you leave your body?  What essence of energy do you want to touch others with, thru words, actions, thoughts?  How can you be giving your energy more lovingly to yourself and others?

“Shakti leads to the Divine Beloved within, where all questions are answered, all tears are dried, were all Love resides, all Knowledge is contained.”-Thomas Ashley-Farrand

I invite you, dear reader, to remember that you are this love. Repeat within yourself now, “I am Love”. “Aham Prema.”  (Listen to the gorgeous singers below!)

Allow yourself to enter into the present moment. “I live in the present, I can only touch you now.”-Dr. Edith Eger.  How powerful the doctors words, it feels as if Shakti is speaking to us through her, and Shakti is, because we are all Shakti.

Much love,
Shawna 
Breathe and Believe.

March is women’s history month.  In the first week of March, I wanted to highlight a Goddess.  As I was still feeling the deep underlying threads of the past couple of weeks around this idea of “what are different aspects to keep in mind when you’re on a journey”, I knew I needed to take a look at discernment. Also because I’ve been needing to take a serious look at a decision that I need to make within my own life. So, it was very perfect to remember that the goddess Saraswati is the goddess of discernment, wisdom, and knowledge.

 
Before I go on to share about Saraswati, remember that she is the representation of That which lives in you. She symbolizes and embodies everything that is already within you. So, as I’m speaking about Saraswati, notice if anything resonates for you. That resonance is one key ingredient to be able to discern with both your head and your heart what Universe is telling you or showing you.
 
Now, I invite you to imagine a woman dressed in all white carrying sacred text, meditation mala beads, and a stringed instrument very much like the lute. Her companion, and sometimes vehicle, is the swan whose beak can ‘separate the milk of wisdom from the water of material existence’. This is Saraswati. Her gift is discernment that ‘lets us find divinity in the world and to awaken our own inner clarity and intuition’! She is knowledge itself. She is the power of divine speech, music, song, and creative inspiration. She is the mother of the Vedas and the essence of the Gayatri mantra. She reminds us that it’s important to stay mindful of the endless amounts of information that can come to us from our outer worlds. And, she invites us to stay mindful of our own uncontrollable thoughts; how they can cause us to be out of the flow of balance in our lives if we allow them. For balance read my blog here.  But, that ‘flow’ is one translation of her name, “the flowing one”!  
 
Saraswati’s name also means “one who bestows the essence of self”.  How beautiful in remembering the chant that we used in classes with Saraswati:
“Om shri Saraswati namaha”
“May I recognize the wisdom within me”.
Repeat this mantra while holding  the Suchi hastra mudra, or hand gesture, that embodies the essence of One in your hands; and it actually looks like the “we’re number one” hand gesture you would find at any athletic event! This mudra evokes the Supreme Soul; all are One, your True One Self.
 
To be able to discern is to be able to listen and cultivate trust of one’s own intuition, no matter how that intuition comes to us, and it can come in many various ways! Intuition can come to us from the inside out and it can also come as insights and signs from the outside to us.
 
In her book, “Radical Intuition,” Kim Chestney writes, “Discernment is the touch point where intuition and intelligence work together.  Our inner wisdom is defined by our ability to give insightful thoughts, feelings, and experiences a meaningful place in the evolutionary process.”
 
When we hear Saraswati’s name, “one who bestows the essence of self”, and we remember that we are the One, we are the Divine, then we can begin to better trust our deeper knowings. We can trust and recognize when something resonates deeply within our heart and our soul. That’s the very definition of discernment, to perceive or recognize. Other synonyms are insightful, knowledgeable, perceptive, knowing, astute. And it’s very key to remember that discerning happens both in the head and the heart. I also believe that discernment can happen within our physical body. When we have that felt sense and we get that gut instinct, that can be one way in which we discern how to make our next move, or discern what to do in that moment. This discernment might lead to better decision making in life. To be able to judge ‘beyond just a perception’, but to actually recognize a resonance within our self, a “knowing”.
 
This all requires awareness. Awareness was also something we talked about in the week prior to this; inside the intention of balance, read here.  But, remember how Saraswati invites us to stay mindful of the information we take in from the outside world, as well as our own thoughts within our head, that can become too much. All of this noise within us, or around us, can prevent us from being able to hear, feel, or witness those moments in which we could have been feeling the resonance. But, perhaps we can’t feel the resonance because of too many ping pong balls bouncing around in our brains!
 
Discernment requires of us time. It’s no wonder in Kim Chestney’s book that she writes, “Our minds decide based on information presented from the outside world; our intuition discerns based on information presented from the inside world. … The act of stepping back, of waiting a few minutes, hours – or even just seconds, in some cases – gives you the pause you need to “get into the gap” where your intuition can communicate with you.” That correlates so much with one of my coined phrases in my classes, the “sacred pause”. The ‘sacred pause’ is a moment in which you’re invited to just feel what you feel, and notice what you notice. In that moment of noticing, that ‘gap moment’, or call it a ‘bridge'(thanks Patrick Heffernan!) between that crazy moment where you couldn’t hear or see the insights, but in getting quiet, even for a breath, you were able to hear or feel that intuitive and wise knowing. It’s wise because you are wise. Remember Saraswati is knowledge itself and That is you. You are She and She is You.
 
Whenever your thoughts are too much, or whenever you just feel too overwhelmed or overburdened, call upon a Saraswati principle to create a positive affirmation. Or, use her mantra, “May I recognize the wisdom within me”.  She is the goddess of song, no wonder she’s carrying japa mala beads for us to sing the mantras and to be able to evoke our innate inner wisdom!
 
Call upon your inner Saraswati when you are uncertain and bewildered or feeling stuck. If you’re feeling heavy with the weight of the world call upon Saraswati within you. Whenever you want to lighten your burdens, make a decision, or spark your creativity call upon your inner knowing. When you wish to speak your Truth with clarity and sing the song of your story to the world, sing it proud thru Saraswati! When you want to connect to your own intuition and inner wisdom, or when you want to gain peace, ease, clarity, and grace call upon the essence of Saraswati within yourself.
 
With love,
Shawna
Breathe and Believe.
 

The above pictures look pretty extreme to me, but, at face value, which would you rather be feeling?  

 

Balance as a noun is defined as ‘an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and study’. I’m wondering dear reader, are you evenly distributing your love, time, energy, and efforts in your life in order to remain “upright and study”?  

 
Jana Kingsford states, “Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create”.  It was some time ago, perhaps a few years ago, where I began to change my own inner definition of balance. Balance to me became a designed creation in life of choosing where I put my thoughts, my heart, my efforts, my focus, and my body.
 
Where we place our gaze, or vision, or focus in life is very much attributed in yoga to the word ‘drishti’.  Drishti means ‘gaze’ or ‘view’.  It often gets most attributed to where your eyes are physically focusing in a physical yogic practice, but the term holds much more depth of meaning. It also means how we see the world as we navigate it, and of course how we see and view our self.
 
As the past couple of weeks intentions have had a deep undercurrent connection of being on a journey, creating balance in the journey is a very necessary aspect to keeping the flow and allowing oneself to be able to better navigate whatever life brings us, as well as how we want to be creating our life. There is a saying in yoga that goes like this, “Ya drishti sa drishti”.  This translates as, “as your vision, so is your universe”.   Another translation I’ve seen is, “the world as you see it”.  
 
This made me think back to remembering when people were saying that 2020 was going to bring clear vision, and it was met partly as a joke because of 20/20 vision but it was also holding deeper meaning for many others.  I’m wondering right now, dear reader, what is your vision? What is your vision for yourself? What is the vision for your life? What is the vision for the work you wish to do in the world? And, how do you view things on a day-to-day basis? Is there somewhere in your life where you need to refocus? Perhaps the first step is to just take time and take that “sacred pause”, as I call it, where you become aware of what you’ve been focusing on lately and seeing if it’s an alignment with where you want to be giving your focus and attention and love…
 
Koi Fresco said, “Balance is a key to everything. What we do, think, say, eat, feel, they all require awareness and through this awareness we can grow”.  Another author who is anonymous once wrote, “The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it”.  I believe it takes a willingness to create the time to have the awareness to know when we’ve lost our balance. And, I’m starting to believe that the more aware we become, the more we can perceive a loss of balance before it would happen. One way to do this is through the practice of discernment. But that’s for the next blog, lol. Click here for that blog! 
 
Rumi said, “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go”.  I always hear this time and time again, especially in the wellness world;  that question of what do you need to let go in order to grow? What is it that you need to release in order to flourish? What is it that you wish to free yourself from in order to create peace and freedom? What are you holding on to that’s no longer serving you? But there’s also the flip side of that coin. What do you know you must hold on to in order to keep the balance? What is it you now that you need to hold deep within your heart at all times in order to create balance? What is it that you need to hold on to in your mind in the way that you view yourself and the world in order to create peace? What are some of the practices you need to either let go of or hold on to in order to create a better balance for yourself and all beings?
 
In our practices during this week of ‘balance’ intention, we used opposite nostril breathing to create balance to the energetic channels within our subtle body.   And, of course, we practiced standing balance postures! I invite you to stand for a moment and just lift one leg up. What do you notice? Are there subtle movements in the ankle you’re standing on? That’s your wise body helping you keep balance. Have you been listening to your body lately? When you lift the leg up, where did your eyes focus? Were you keeping a steady gaze? How did you position yourself in order to create balance?…
 
And there’s the verb definition for balance, ‘to keep or put something in a study position so that it doesn’t fall’. How do you position yourself in life so that you won’t fall? What positions do you put yourself in in order to stay steady? Do you have self-care practices that help keep your peace of mind? Do you put your body in physical yogic positions in order to support your physical health? How do you position your thoughts in order to support your emotional and mental well-being? In the weeks that followed this one we explored mantra as one way to keep the mental, emotional, and spiritual focus aligned in a way that is meant to position ourselves in alignment with the love of the universe.  Read that blog here. **And, join me at 7:30pm THIS SUNDAY for an Instagram Live inside the Bread and Yoga co-op instagram page for a mantra chanting experience to support discernment, creativity, peace, and recognizing your own innate inner wisdom!**
 
I hope all of these questions and more have begun to stir an inquiry into your own life around what balance means for you. I hope that these questions and these words have supported you to graciously and compassionately take a look at different aspects of your life and to feel into if they are in a good balance or if there needs to be some sort of refocus or redistribution. This could be taking a look at balance in a relationship you’re in, balance in how you are giving energy to work, home life, family, self, and even relationship with the divine.
 
I will close this blog with the same quote that I closed all the classes with.  It comes from L. R. Knost:
 
“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”
 
Much love,
Shawna
Breathe and Believe
 
 
Surrender

“If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it.”-Toni Morrison

This is the quote that opens the chapter on surrender in Sarah Lewis’s book entitled “The Rise: creativity, the gift of failure, and the search for mastery”.  I am so happy that I bought this book after hearing her speak with Brené Brown in her podcast ‘Dare to Lead’, you can listen here(exclusively on Spotify).  

I recently took a deep dive back into surrender since last writing about it a while back, read here.  Who knew that at that time in my life, I was beginning to more deeply understand the fullness of surrender.  I wrote: I love how the jewel of surrender invites us to be an active participant in life. Throughout leading classes this week I felt channeled through me the realization that: when we actively leave our heart open to things as they are, to witness life as it unfolds, that is the act of participation!  We are simultaneously surrendering to what is, as we witness it. And, I came to feel and realized that in doing this, we can be simultaneously leaving ourselves open to seeing where life is directing us, where life is moving us. We can therefore, through the jewel of surrender, quite possibly see our purpose in life, or even the purpose of life itself. When we surrender to that divine entity greater than ourselves, which is simultaneously who we are, we can better wade through the waters of life when those waters are choppy and thrashing.  And when those waters are pristine, still and peaceful, then we can enjoy them even more.”

I went on to say, “It personally took me many years to come to fully understand that surrender does not equate to letting go and giving up. Surrender does not mean stopping life and not taking action. Rather, surrender means stepping into life, and stepping into our own light, and being courageous in those steps.  Being willing to take those steps no matter what the outcome, to live life fully, and to just surrender to where it lands us is what ishvara pranidhana is about. This brings me circling back again to the idea that when we surrender to life’s flow, that we may also simultaneously be available to see where life is taking us, what it is presenting us, and where we might serve others in the best way possible. That creative flow reminds me of spanda, two weeks ago. And perhaps how spanda is kind of like the holy Spirit, moving us towards the light, towards the love, always”

Wow, hopefully you will feel the thread of resonance that follow, as well as some new entry points, new point of view, and new ways of feeling into what surrender has in store for each of us!…

In the book “The Rise”, Sarah Lewis shares that surrender is more of a giving over,  and not a giving up. In giving over into the moment, at any moment, we actually are more available to the moment.  What I mean by available is that we can become an explorer. We become what I am beginning to call an ‘archaeologist of our own life and soul’. In that moment when we have given over to our senses, and our consciousness, and we have stepped into the practice of being in the moment, to see everything that is within it, with all of our senses and faculties, it is in that moment that we have greatest choice; it’s in that moment that we become what Sarah Lewis calls “our optimal self”. Why? Because, in that moment we are not so tight and rigid that we cannot see, feel, or hear the insights,  the possibilities, or the ways in which we can redirect our own self, or the energies that are coming at us.  **I feel that this requires us to be brave enough to surrender to what’s been given for us to do, so we give over to it, in order to live.  It requires fortitude.  And when I say ‘been given for us to do’, I’m also thinking of Sarah Lewis in her book and last week in our intention, to which I did not write a blog about, but you can listen to the podcast here.  She states that the biggest lesson that the universe keeps putting in front of her and that she has to keep learning and unlearning and relearning is the lesson of ” knowing what is given for me to do”.  And when she says what is given for her to do she is meaning… ” I’m talking about what I feel I have been given to do by all that is, by the beyond, by God, if you call it God. And by that I mean what’s my soul mission?”  I believe our soul’s mission is inscribed in the stars and the ether and the cosmos. Call it the akashic records, call it love, call it life, but I wholeheartedly believe that each of us is here with a purpose, even if that purpose is to awaken enough to recognize that we are here and that we matter.


So what happens when we start living life, we start to awaken to these deeper knowings? What happens when we begin to feel that our work and our striving feels as if it’s two steps forward and then two steps back? What happens when it feels as if we’re just continually climbing up an impossible and infinite mountain? This is where I feel surrender has its greatest alchemy and potency. I have come to feel that there is a discipline that we must practice in order to surrender. That we need discipline in surrender, to surrender. The idea of not fighting what we cannot control and instead redirecting that energy, and that thought, similar to how Sarah Lewis talks in her book about the practice of aikido. The discipline and the practices that we continually need to implement in order to be able to surrender. It is only in the surrendered moments, this moment, the moment when and where we are focused, that our experience is of that very second.  This is when we can feel the essence that is assisting us, the Universe. It is when we are most in touch with our true self.

Sarah Lewis talks about an Arctic explorer, Ben Saunders, who in his solo journeys to both the North and South Pole, talks about the shifting ice caps that he’s journeying on and how in the morning he would wake up and check his GPS and see that the ice caps had shifted so greatly that he was back at the starting point of where he had started the day before. So, he began to tune in with the wind, the temperatures, and the climates cues. He states, “clearly you can’t change anything that’s going on in this harsh place, but you start to understand it’s rhythms and seasons. You come to a place of surrender to the physical environment. ” I feel that this is so symbolic of what this new idea of discipline to surrender speaks to directly.  In those moments where we feel like we’re not making any great change, or we feel we’re being challenged, we are stressed, or even in pain, it could even be chronic physical pain, that we practice surrender.  We surrender to the moment, we become present.  That’s all our action ever needs to be, aware of what is and whats within us. 

We surrender in a way where we are empowered to be present-moment focused that we are able to feel the season of our life in that moment, we are able to behold the pain in our body, or to witness the pain in our heart, or to just see the situation we are living in in this moment alone, not making a story up about it, not referencing the past nor wishing for a future, but just really being present right now. Ben Saunders goes on to say, ” there were days where it seemed completely impossible, and I couldn’t even come contemplate the ultimate goal. There were days when I just look at a bit of ice in front of me on the right bearing north, and just think, all I’m going to think about is getting to that bit of ice there, that’s 30 ft away, and when I get there, if I get there, that will be a success. It’ll be the right direction, and then I can think about the rest of it. So there were days like that where I just had to break it down into the smallest possible steps. “ I invite you to do that right now dear reader, feel free to pause and sit quietly with your eyes closed in a quiet place. Take a couple of grounding breaths that just center your thoughts more into the present moment. And then just be in the moment and notice what you notice, feel what you feel, without holding judgment upon whatever your experience is. Just be in the experience notice what you notice, allow whatever comes in or comes up to just be that. Be in acceptance of what you notice, be the observer and the witness.

Sarah Lewis and her book writes, “When you surrender enough, you feel the heft of a situation or an environment and can better judge how to move with it.”  I love how she states prior that, “Surrender heightens perceptions.”  She talks about the practice of Aikido here and how she interviewed and studied with a teacher for a while in order to inform her book. The Aikido teacher offered her a quote, “A tactile analogy of how we can hold two objects of the same size and density, say two glasses, one empty and one full of water, and feel their different weights, but we tighten and squeeze our arm and hand muscles more, we won’t perceive the difference in the two weights nearly as much.”  Sarah Lewis continued on, “When we are stressed, we lose access to information.  And when people are out there on the edge, they need to have access to all the information they can.”  That edge can be conflict. Yet, the founder of Aikido saw that edge as the “energy of the world itself”.  I’m thinking again here how we have to be brave enough to surrender what’s been given to us to do, whether literally in the moment or more on that macro level of one soul’s mission, so that we can give over to it in order to live and thrive. I’m thinking of the Toni Morrison quote again, and how much is packed into that one statement, “If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it!”

Once you give up the control, you really become the true driver! I love how Ben Saunders started to speak of his solo time out in the Arctic with the word ‘we’!  To me that signifies the remembrance that we are surrendering to be present in the moment and to see where we are simultaneously being guided by Source, and where we can guide our self!  Source shows us possibility. We are co-creators with Source! Mysterious, scary, daunting, but you sense the path; seeing ideas, insights, feel faith, resonance, and you can feel the positive change! This all allows for our own greater capacity to come forth when we surrender! I’m feeling in my own life, that I want to begin to always say ‘we’ so that I can remember this. And that I am truly “They”, as each of us are, we are our authentic self here in physical form on this planet as unique individuals, and equally as much we are love itself.  I Am That, That Am I!  I Am Because We Are!

And to remember that we are that, I am that, that am I, is what I realized is one audacious goal, at least that I have in this lifetime; enlightenment. Sarah Lewis talks about how audacious goals can be a form that leads, or be a form of generation and movement in one’s path of mastery. And though I still sometimes can’t wrap my own brain around what an audacious goal would be, I have now found that enlightenment is quite an audacious goal. By definition, audacious means ” showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks”. So truly, for me personally, enlightenment is an audacious goal and to be my true authentic self is an audacious goal because it requires of me being willing to show up in my light and to be bold and take risks when I reveal my light.  Another audacious goal of mine is to serve as many people as I possibly can in there journey of healing; and for them to FEEL their worth and have an experience of inner peace. 

Before I close, what happens when we are at our wit’s end? What happens when we feel as if we can no longer go on? What happens when we feel like surrender truly is just giving up and that’s what we feel to do? This is where I loved that in her book The Rise, Sarah Lewis shares Hooke’s Law. Hooke’s Law states that “the force of an extended spring is equivalent to how far it is stretched.” She says to “convert our own energy and operate at full force, often we must first surrender.” But as I had my husband explained this physics law to me multiple times until I could feel into how this applies to life, this is my take on the law… Imagine a slinky toy if you don’t know what that is click here.  To me this is the knowledge of however far we are stretch, like the slinky, our Light and our energy, our Greatness is equivalent!!  Your Greatness is equal to how far you are “stretched”! I remember the adage that ‘God won’t give you what you can’t handle’. And this is where I remember my dear friend, Stephenie, and how she speaks to the serenity prayer everyday:  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

So in a way, we just surrender to our own glow! Our own life. Or, maybe you will feel it as giving over to what is in your life, and understand its rhythms and seasons and break it down to the smallest step possible. When we are present we can more better innately and intuitively do this.  You are wise, your body is wise.

“You are a discoverer, craftsman, artist, scientist, archaeologist of your own life and soul. Stay tuned in. Stay tuned! Your life is amazing!  You are amazing!”-Shawna Emerick 😉

All my love and surrender,
Shawna 
Breathe and Believe.

Today is the Wolf Full Moon. I did not find it surprising, but rather magically supported by Source that this full moon was happening when I had created an intention around “walking together” for my classes this week.
The Wolf Full moon supports us in ‘finding our packs’ and ‘reinforcing social bonds’.
Thank you for being part of my pack, especially now, and here’s why…

 

This past Tuesday, the Washington Heights, NYC, NY studio of Mind Body Soul Yoga decided to close after nearly 12 years.  I was with them on and off for most of that time.  It is now transforming into it’s own new beautiful reincarnation, and I am transmuting as well….

I HAVE STARTED MY OWN CLASSES ONLINE!  This Saturday will be my last classes with Mind Body Soul Yoga.  After that, all you have to do is go to my website!  Right now, for ease during this time of transition, I am keeping the same days, times, and styles of yoga that I had been teaching thru Mind Body Soul Yoga.

My schedule isn’t changing right now, but I might be seeking your feedback on that in the future.  I am still also offering the classes with Bread and Yoga Coop.  All of this info is on the home page of my website. Click HERE!  For right now, I am also considering recording some of these classes.  How I will use them, I’m not sure as of right now.  I have a lot to think about and a lot to feel into. I want to do it intentionally and lovingly for you and for myself. I greatly appreciate your patience, support, and any feedback in how I can help you.  

I can tell you this though!  SQUEAL….I am one part of an INCREDIBLE COLLABORATION that is underway!  It will launch around March 1st!  There is going to be A LOT for you to dive into from this collaboration, as well as recordings, not to mention connections, community, practice, support, growth, love, and a lot of fun!    

Again, thank you. You are my pack, my friends, family, and fellow human beings walking this path of life hand-in-hand with me.  Truly, it is heart-with-heart, pulsing and beating to the sound of the cosmos.  We are all beautifully unique and each of us is a necessary thread within the fabric of all of humanity.  Together, when we share our strengths and support others when they need help, we make the fabric stronger!  

Last week was wrapped around the “actionable extension of the heart”, a term I channeled because of my ‘Manifest Monthly’ workshop.  We focused it more inward, towards one’s self.  This week, it’s about turning it outwards.  Hence, the stumbling upon the Wolf Moon, and the synchronicity of that message from the Universe in support of all of this weeks events!  I wanted to feel into the “actionable extension of the heart” towards others, and below are some of the quotes, messages, and inquiries from last week and this weeks classes.

Thank you so much.  I look forward to serving you more on the Yoga mat, on the Thai Massage mat, in the Spiritual Coaching for Transformation connections, and more!  (Yes, I am currently offering all of these things I just named!)

Love,
Shawna
Breathe and Believe.

Last Week’s Quotes:

 

“Honest hearts produce honest action.” -Brigham Young

 

“Love is action.” -my grandfather, Samuel Emerick

 

“Love is a bodied truth, a somatic reality.”-Stanley Keleman

 

“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. there would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed … I suppose a big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.”- Thomas Merton

 

I closed some classes by asking the question, “what would this feel like, to offer an ‘actionable extension of your heart’ to yourself? What would that look like? And, what might it produce”?  This week I’m asking those same questions in the context of “what would it feel like, what would it look like, and what made it produce, to offer that ‘actionable extension of our hearts’ to each other”?

 

This Week’s Quotes:

 

“Oh Great Spirit who made all races, look kindly upon the whole human family and take away the arrogance and hatred which separates us from our brothers and sisters.” -Cherokee Prayer

 

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connected.” -Cheif Seattle, 1854

 

“I believe in the limitless of humans. We are capable of incredible things. At times, that realization is frightening.”-Alicia Keys

 

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; And when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we are all in this together.” -Brené Brown

 

This week’s intention was also supported by the fact that Brene Brown’s dissertation was centered around the idea of ‘acompañar’, which means ‘to accompany, partner, and to come along’.  I am forever grateful to my dear friend, Randi, who texted me on a day that I told her I was feeling a bit down, and she reminded me how I have her as an older sister, and many older sisters, watching over me.  Thank you, Randi, and, again, thank you all! 

 

May we remember we are together.  May we see each other as not lacking anything, but instead meet each other right where we are at; and to only support each other in the most loving ways for growth of all beings!

 

“goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation.” -Rumi