Breathe and Believe

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

Are you having difficulty finding the strength to carry on?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Source of Strength

About my new course 

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

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

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

 

Inspiration for this blog and the course: 

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

 

Mark Nepo goes on to write:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Our truths emerge from experience.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

How beautiful and so poetic.

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

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

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

                                                                               -Michael A. Singer, “The untethered soul”

 

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

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

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

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

 

All my love,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

 

sea shells

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

 

A new offering coming soon.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The ninth principle of Buddhist psychology says:

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

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

 

R.A.I.N.

  • Recognition
  • Acceptance
  • Investigation
  • Non-identification

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

 

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

 

Mr. Kornfield goes on to write that,

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

He further writes:

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

He offered this picture…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Jack Kornfield:

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Under the umbrella with you,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe. 

Refections from JTTP's theme on rebirth

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Spirit had me write:

 

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

 

Breathe.

 

What has ever made your heart close?

What makes your heart open?

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

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

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

Acknowledge the fear of being hurt again.

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

 

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

 

And this takes a courageous heart!”

 

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

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

 

Rumi said it so beautifully:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

With an open heart,

Shawna 🙏🏻💗

Breathe and Believe.

1J3A9467-3 (2)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Rebirth is such an interesting idea to me. 

 

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

 

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

 

What would you drop right now? 

 

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

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

This is what they mean by turning lead into gold.

All the pain, the anger, doubt and fear.

All the suffering that weighed me down.

I look them in the eye.

My pen is my sword

and with it I pinned them to the page.

The page is my cauldron

where I stir until what comes out

is transformed, purified, reborn.

As I bring it forth

it’s light is so bright,

it is blinding.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Rebirth.

By: Alex Elle

 

There will be moments when

You bloom fully and then

Wilt, only to bloom again.

If we can learn anything from

Flowers it is that resilience is born

Even when we feel like we are

Dying.

Rebirth

By: Rupi Kaur

Wilt

Fall

Root

Rise

Bloom

This is the recipe of life

Said my mother

As she held me in her arms

As I wept

Think of those flowers you plant

In the garden each year

They will teach you

That people too

Must wilt

Fall

Root

Rise

In order to bloom

Rebirth

By: Derek Evers

A hyacinth sways

Flamboyant and exciting

Each bursting with soul

Rebirth (haiku #23)

By: Mysidian Bard

It isn’t too late

It’s never too late to start

All over again

May you begin whatever you feel is in your heart.

 

 

All my love,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe

 

 
Sharing our unique gifts with the world

 

Each of us has a myriad of gifts.

Right now you have the gift of your breath.

You have the gift of your body.

You have the gift of your consciousness.

You have the gift of your heart.

You have the gift of your Spirit!

You have the gift of intuition.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you share your gift (s) with the world

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

And the biggest gift of all?!

It’s YOU!  YOU ARE A GIFT!  

How will you share your Light with the world?

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

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

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

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

And may you not take your own Light for granted. 

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



All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe

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

 

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

 

Mark Nepo writes:

“The courage of the seed:

All the buried seeds

Crack open in the dark

The instant they surrender

To a process they can’t see.”

He goes on to write:

 

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

 

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

Here is a picture:

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

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

 

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

 

How would a person with a courageous heart act?

What would a person with a courageous heart say?

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

*And both take courage!

 

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

 

How do you empower your own courageous heart?

How can you live more fully from your courageous heart?

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

 

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

 

All my love,

Shawna 🙏🏻

Breathe and Believe.

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

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

“When was the last time you danced?”

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

Mr. Nepo goes on to write:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The five layers, or sheaths, of being are:

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

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

 

To move is to feel.

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

I offered this guided meditation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Om Shanti, om peace.

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

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

 

All my love,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

Yoga Retreat in June 2022 

 

 

In this blog I cover: 

  • The Importance of taking uninterrupted time out for ourselves 
  • What do I mean by ‘coming home to ourselves
  • A call to mine and Liz’s upcoming yoga retreat in June 2022. Click here for details.

Dear self,

 

 

Welcome home. I’ve missed you.

 

 

I know we see each other from time to time, but with so much happening in our life at such a rapid pace it seems  like I see you less so these days.

 

And I get why. There’s such a sense of urgency and stress in the air. Our mind is constantly trying to figure it all out. What do these changes mean for our life? How do we show up and be a good person? Where do we belong in this ever changing world? 

 

*Sigh…* 

 

I understand. It’s a lot. 

 

On top of that we know what helps us feel calmer and more centered, but are often so resistant to give it to ourselves. 

 

We know that being in nature helps us feel rooted; that moving our body helps us process energy that doesn’t have words; and that being with others helps us feel more whole. 

 

But then comes the feelings of guilt and shame. We think it’s “bougie” to do these things for ourselves. We believe others deserve it more than us so that means we shouldn’t have it all. That self-care is for the selfish. 

 

But I must implore you, oh dear self, that this isn’t just “self-care!” And it’s far from selfish…

 

It’s absolutely necessary to be the person you’re meant to be. For when we come home to ourselves, to our True Selves, we are reacquainted with the wisdom we need to be truly helpful to our family, community and world. 

 

We return to the compassionate knowing of our heart and fierce guidance of our Spirit to navigate the trials and tribulations that ensue. We learn how to respond constructively to life’s adversities, instead of reacting and feeding unhealthy cycles. Our emotional palette begins to widen to include more hues of colors, and our own self-awareness fuels a healing service that’s much needed in the world.

 

By coming home to ourself we help our presence be an offering to the world.

I’m so glad you’re choosing to come home.

 

Love,

Your Self

 

I’d like to share a story of a beautiful moment that cracked my heart wide open.  It happened on the playground. This moment is what led to this week’s intention for my yoga classes.

 

Picture her, Quinn, my now three year old daughter. She is sitting at the top of a cute little slide at our nearest playground that’s only 2 minutes walk from our house. She’s a little scared and nervous to go down by herself.

 

Two older girls notice her trepidation. They quickly come over without skipping a beat, and surround her with care, confidence, encouragement, and a whole lot of smiles!

 

I felt an energy of electricity move up through my body. It was the kind of energy that makes you want to jump for joy and clap your hands and say, “You can do it!”

 

I think Quinn didn’t know what to make of her situation! I could see her from the short distance away that I was.  She was taking in this moment, really feeling into the decision she had before her. Her brother was also there supporting her. It was quite a beautiful scene to see Quinn being shown all this support and love from her brother and from these two girls who we did not know at all.

 

The fact that we didn’t know them made the moment even more rich. To take in this scene totally filled my heart with love, hope, and the true belief that living in unity with all others is possible.  Especially when we just want each other to succeed and experience the joy of life!

 

That kind of unity and harmony in life is exactly what I hope for people to remember through practice this week.

To remember that it is possible, we can create it, and when we keep our eyes and our hearts open to it, we come to find that it is everywhere all the time. It’s pulsing through our veins. It’s being pumped throughout our body. And, it is breathed through the very ethers that we all share.

 

And you may wonder what I mean when I say it’s pulsing through our bodies, so I’ll invite you to take a sacred pause here, as I call it. Take a moment to lie down if you can.  Close your eyes. Take some slow calming breaths that allow you to settle into a little bit more peace. And then begin to notice the subtle currents.

 

How does it feel? How do the currents feel? What do you notice about them? Do they feel like a physical tingling? Do they feel even more subtle, more like a knowing of something intuitive? Or perhaps you just noticed a subtle flow and movement that’s unexplainable?

 

In yoga we talk about the subtle body. We talk about this energy and this life force that is flowing through each of us. We call this energy prana. Prana lives in our physical form as much as our consciousness. It is the vibration of life. 

Kathy Oddenino shares:

“This is the motivational force of life. Know the power of unity, as your energy flows with the energy of the universe. Trust in the United energy flowing through your bodies. Feel the inner peace of unity within yourself, and with the souls.”

Prana is everywhere and in everything. It is in each of us. It is in our very breath that we take and give.

 

It is the very breath that allows us to breathe ourselves into the world. It is the very breath that allows us to breathe our own unique creations into the world. And it is the very breath that allows us to sing our own unique song to the world.

As we sing our unique song to the world, each of our voices join in unity to create the vibration of humanity. Harmony and unity is here. Harmony and unity being created is possible. And we can witness harmony and unity when we keep our hearts open.

 

Peter N. Borys, from unity of the heart, wrote:

“The true self in unity with God always emanates from the interior of the heart.”

As you can continue to lie there and to notice your breath, as you can continue to witness the subtle currents within your body and your subtle body, now notice the interior of your heart. 

 

What pulses there, in the interior of your heart? What currents are sharing themselves with you now?

 

Unity comes from a root Latin word ‘unus’ meaning One.  Our hearts truly beat as one. 

 

We are a family. We are each other’s brothers and sisters and beings of connection.  We can be each other’s support, just like the girls to Quinn at the playground.  We can be each other’s reminders of what’s possible within ourselves. We can be each other’s cheerleaders!

 

John W Adams from you and your deaf child writes:

“Family unity requires that each member of the family contribute to the family unit without losing his or her identity.”

I attributed this quote within the families of my own self; body, heart, emotions, psyche, and soul.  I then attributed this quote to my own family, immediate and extended.  And then I attributed this quote to the family of humanity.

 

May we each remember just how important and unique our individual self is within the whole. And may we remember just how whole, and integrated we all are with each other. Maybe we never lose sight of harmony and unity. May we create it. Maybe we see it. May we be it!

 

In unity,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

What do Hanuman’s stories have to offer us? A great deal! Read on…

 

Hanuman has many stories in the Ramayana, one of the ancient Indian texts of Hinduism. 

 

I want to offer a few, brief, little stories that have been meaningful to me. To say they are brief in the context of Hanuman stories, is so true. If you’re in Journey to the Peak, our monthly gathering was all about the stories this month! 

 

Normally we do not record the gathering sessions, but Patrick recited a few of the chapters of Hanuman’s story, and we decided to record. If you’re in Journey to the Peak, I highly recommend you to watch the recording! We might continue doing this in the future, bringing in the stories and going deeper. So, feel free to reach out if Journey to the Peak and sharing stories sounds interesting to you and you want to join!

 

It is my hope that you find something resonant and meaningful from Hanuman’s stories that you can attribute to your life and yourself. It is my hope that as you take in these stories that are only just the top layers, that you allow his stories to remind you of all that is good in you, your life, and in life in general.

 

Let’s begin with Hanuman as a little child…

Born to the God of wind, Vayu, and mother, Anjana, he was born with tremendous power because he was the source of Shiva himself, the Auspicious One(tons more to this story and why he was born a monkey!). Hanuman was born with the name Anjaneya, “son of Anjana”.

 

One morning, as he awoke very hungry, he mistaken the sun to be a very juicy fruit up in the sky, like a mango, and leaped at it. Flying faster and faster into the sky, Indra, The God who ruled over the kingdom of the gods and goddesses, struck down Hanuman and broke his jaw.  Hence Hanuman’s name, “One with the broken jaw”.  

 

Angry and upset, Vayu ceased all the air from flowing. The world was being suffocated of all prana and life force.  

All the gods and goddesses came to Vayu and Anjana offering gifts to Hanuman if they would just bring the air and the winds back!  And it was so, and the winds came back. And Indra had seen his mistake of thinking that Hanuman was being egotistical, but realized that it was just the innocence of childhood.

 

As I take the wisdom from this story into my heart, I feel many things. The overcoming of adversity and even injury, as Hanuman did. The innocence of a child seeking the sun, the ‘fruit’ and that life giving nourishment; and wondering what that experience might have done to Hanuman. I also see the deep support and love he has from his parents. Just like the Universe loves us. 

 

Stories are gateways and mirrors to help us navigate life. 

We can envision Hanuman’s challenges as our own. Hanuman’s joy where we can find joy in our life.  Stories help us reflect on our own circumstances, Self, and where we might want to make change. Stories also become a source for inspiration, empowerment, and reminder of our own meaning and important place in all of life!

 

Can you see yourself as a young child again? 

Can you remember a time when you overcame adversity? 

Do you remember a time where you felt fully supported and taken care of?

Can you remember a time when you were so ‘hungry’ that you did everything in your power to go after your goal?

Can you remember being innocent and open to life?! Curious and excited to ‘taste’ new things?!

 

Perhaps one of the more well-known stories of Hanuman is that in his adult life.

Hanuman had become a devotee to Rama and Sita. I have read that Rama represents Dharma and that Sita represents Love (again, SO much more to the story here than what I can place in a relatively condensed blog!).  

Sita had been kidnapped by Ravana, King of the Demons, and the monkey army that Hanuman was a part of gathered with the bears to go out and seek Sita in support of Rama. Rama and Sita’s love for each other was incomparable, so you can imagine Rama’s devastation. 

 

Standing at the edge of the ocean, The bear God, Jambavan, spoke to Hanuman and reminded him of who he was. Reminding Hanuman that he was the son of the God of the wind, a great monkey, and that he had incredible powers and strengths!  It seems that every time the bear spoke to Hanuman the chains of disbelief in himself, fear and doubt, all began to break! 

 

As Hanuman began to remember who he was, he physically grew and grew and grew!  He leapt over the ocean to go seek out Sita and to drop Rama’s ring in her lap to let her know she would be saved (of course not without trials and tribulations, but again, this blog would become pages and pages long! Google search Hanuman and the Medicine Mountain!! 

 

When did you last fully embody your strengths?

Who was it last that reminded you of how incredible you are?  (Email me, I will do it if no one has recently!)

How will you begin to acknowledge your own Self, your own power, and your own capabilities?!

What are you immensely devoted to?

How do/will you uphold love?

Are you willing to take the leap for love?

Meaning, are you willing to risk your personhood for that which is larger than you?

Can you leap with faith and release fear?

What’s holding you back from taking the leap right now?

 

I could go on, but I will let you sit with this story and these questions here. 

But, before I go, one last story that ties to Hanuman’s childhood story.  

 

A last story here that helped me “see the Light” in devotion to God/Universe…

There came a time in Hanuman’s adult life when he wanted and pleaded with the sun god, Surya, to teach him all that he knew.  Hanuman’s mother told him that Surya was the one to learn from! Surya refused Hanuman. However, Hanuman was persistent. Eventually, impressed with Hanuman’s desire to learn, Surya taught him. 

 

It is said that to thank Surya, Hanuman created the ‘Surya Namaskar’, sun salutation sequence of Asana(physical postures)

 

The beauty that I see in these stories…

What was so revelatory about revisiting some of Hanuman stories at this moment in my life, is the fact that Hanuman was always going after the sun. As a child, mistaking it as a mango fruit, and also as an adult, seeking the sun’s wisdom.

 

To me, the sun here represents all that is good. The sun represents love and God. The sun represents the universal and infinite Light. he beauty that I see in these stories is that Hanuman was always seeking the Light.  He always had his heart and mind set on everything good. He wanted to learn practices in order to create good.  He wanted to be Good and to know God/Universal Consciousness because he was so devoted to Source/God.

 

May you, dear reader, remember that YOU ARE this Light! As bright as the Sun, if not brighter! 

 

Use the Hanuman sloka to remind yourself that you can overcome adversity, you are strong, you can leap with faith for everything good, and you got this!! Chant:

 

“Om Shree Hanumate Namaha” again and again!

 

All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.