Breathe and Believe

 

“But we must leave the seed down in the soil of our mind and not keep digging it up to see if it is growing roots…”

Are you a person who contemplates life’s larger questions with the smaller ones?

Are you a person who is simultaneously wondering what you’re going to have for dinner as much as wondering who you might create a life with?

If you’re like me, You might also wonder how we can actually make a world without war, as much as you are thinking about what time you need to leave your house to go pick up your kids from school!

 

Let me introduce to you something that has created a beautiful blossom within the garden of my mind:

“Store consciousness.”

 

This is what Buddhist psychology calls it.

What is it?…

 

In the recent ‘Tricycle’ Buddhist review magazine for spring of 2022, the article entitled “Trusting the unknown,” written by Kaira Jewel Lingo, she writes about this store consciousness in this way:

“But we must leave the seed down in the soil of our mind and not keep digging it up to see if it is growing roots. It won’t grow that way! It is the same with a deep and troubling question. We ask our deeper consciousness to take care of it and then let go of our thinking and worrying about it. Then in our daily lives we practice calming, resting, and coming home to ourselves in the present moment, and that will help the seed of our question to ripen naturally and authentically. This process cannot be rushed or forced. It may take weeks, months, or years. But we can trust that the seed is “down there,” being tended to by our deeper consciousness, and one day it will sprout into a clear answer.”

What she is alluding to is what her teacher, the late Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, used to say to people who ask him life’s big questions.

 

He would say, “Don’t try to figure out the answer by thinking about it.”

 

Kaira writes that “in thinking over a question again and again, we do not generally arrive at  real wisdom, but we easily tire ourselves out and get even more confused or anxious.”

 

Thich Nhat Hanh suggested to

‘consider this big question as a seed, plant it in the soil of our mind and let it rest there. Our mindfulness practice in our daily lives is the sunshine and water that the seed needs to sprout so that one day it will rise up on its own, in its own time. And then we’ll know the answer to our question without a doubt’.   

To me this blew my mind as well as eased my spirit.

 

To trust and to breathe my question down into the depths of my psyche and soul and to let it rest there in the dirt. To just let it be there while I focus on the day to day, focus on my practices, and just practicing being a good person.

But this letting go process can also be a struggle. Some of life’s questions that we would like to have answered, we want them answered now!

 

When will I find love?

Will I have the career I desire and dream about?

Will war end?

Will my children have a happy life?

 

This reminds me of one of my most favorite Rilke quotes that states, 

“I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer,”

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters To A Young Poet.

So I take a deep breath. I might cry. Or I might feel a sense of release. But then I take another deep breath. And then I might laugh. Or I might take a yoga pose. And then I take another breath and remind myself to trust. And to surrender. And to live inside of my days honoring all that comes up. And all that comes through. And all that I receive and all that I give; that I honor it all.

Kaira actually begins her short article with this beautiful translation by Stephen Mitchell of Lao-tzu’s words:

 

“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”-Lao-tzu (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

 

So what happens when there is nothing more we can do but wondering and worrying? We lay the questions deep into the earth of the garden of our mind, and we go about our days letting the questions be nourished from the focused and loving actions that we’re taking in our daily lives.

 

And what happens when there are things that we can do to support our deeper questions? Then we take loving action, through discipline and intuition and a heart centered space. And even those small actionable steps that we take might not be the full answer to our deeper questions, but those deeper questions are being nourished by our daily actions.

 

And how will we know when the right action arises and we are to take it? We will know because those daily actions of realigning with our heart, are True North, and our authentic Self, will inform us when we see what the action and the answer is. We will see clearly because the ‘water is clear’ and the ‘mud has settled’ because we paused.  Because we stopped worrying about the unknown future.

 

We must trust that we will know what right now is unknown.

 

To stay in an open state with our minds and hearts is our daily practice. To always be in the world with a heart of acceptance for all of life is our daily practice. To invite ourselves to always be so open so that we are receptive and accepting with gratitude for what we have and what Source is providing is our daily practice that nourishes these deeper questions that we plant as seed in our psyche.  

 

Then, through these, and many other practices, we can trust the unknown as Kaira Jewel Lingo titles her article; ‘Trusting the Unknown’. 

 

To invite our self into these ways of being, we can use the Pushpaputa Mudra, The gesture of “handful of flowers”.  It embodies and symbolizes all of the daily practices I just wrote about above.  It represents all of those as well as promoting positive attitude, helping us overcome fear, and promoting that inner spaciousness. It’s no wonder it’s associated with the element of water; to invite us into being fluid and in the flow of life, as well as trusting the flow and surrendering to its movement.  

To do this mudra, cup each of your hands gently and separately.  Then, with palms facing up, bring the two pinky fingers to touch.  Keep the mudra in front of you with relaxed shoulders and dropped elbows.  Breathe.  

 

Perhaps we can make friends with uncertainty and stay open, just like the open psalm of the mudra.

 

What if you made friends with uncertainty?

 

Kaira goes on to write that “It’s hard to find our way if we continue to feed this worry and fear. We can recognize that we are not helping the situation and stop. Returning to this moment, anchoring ourselves in our body, we will find the solidity of the home inside of us, which is capable of helping us find our way, if only we let it, and if we can let go of trying to figure out the future in our heads.”

 

Marcel Proust said “the voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes”.  I have used this quote in the past but inside different contexts. I feel that it fits here again, where we can shift our gaze towards trust and surrender and not needing to know.  We can open up to our beginner’s mind, and see what is just right in front of us. This often leads me down a path that lands me in the blossom of gratitude. That I see all that is within me and all that is around me. That I’m grateful for the people and the things that I have in my life. It lessens the worry of those larger questions that I planted in the soil of my mind earlier. And I come to feel in my body a sense of freedom and in my mind hope and new possibilities.

 

The quote also speaks to making news “eyes”, new ways of seeing and viewing things.  Instead of seeing only worry, questions, concerns, and anxiety, focus the “eyes” towards what is here, what is now, and what is good. 

 

Jack Kornfield reminds us that the 25th principle of Buddhist psychology is to ‘release opinions, free ourself from views, and be open to mystery’.  

 

I returned to the Lao-tzu words and asked myself if I can remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? 

I realized that I’m not literally not moving, but instead I’m moving in ways that are aligned with my heart on a daily basis. And by doing so, I can trust the unknown and I can trust that I will see when that right action arises.  I will know as the mud settles and the water becomes clear. Because as the water becomes clear I can see.  I will have a clear view, clear thinking, clear feeling, clear Knowing.  I will not be swayed by others’ views, societal views, or even my own negative thought views that are not Real.

 

Alan Watts and his book ‘The wisdom of insecurity’ points out that:

“when we are clear and sure about what we are doing, we are less open to the many other possibilities available. But when we let ourselves hang out in the space of not knowing, there is enormous potential and life could unfold in innumerable ways.”  Kaira Jewel Lingo takes off from his words that rather than avoiding and fearing this place of uncertainty that we can embrace it and all its gifts!

She closes her article with this beautiful quote,

“If we can stop, we have the chance to touch into something deeper than feeling overwhelmed. This place of pausing, or stopping, helps the seed of our question to mature and ripen into the guidance and direction we need.”

So plant your seed of a question dear one. Let it settle. Go about your days aligning with your heart so that your seed of a question will be nourished. As you do so, the mud will settle and the water will become clear. Trust that you will see and you will know in that moment of clarity, beauty and Guidance! 

 

All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe. 

 

P.S. How perfect that as I write this, on Wednesday March 2nd, it is the new moon in Pisces. It’s perfect because this new moon invites us to focus on our inner wisdom. It invites us to meditate and to take that pause. It also supports us in releasing views of others and society and to just be nicer to ourselves! And that supports the 25th principle of Buddhist psychology 😉

 

Forgiveness is a power that breaks the chain of resentment and rage.

 

I don’t particularly remember addressing forgiveness in the past, perhaps it is because I didn’t feel as if I truly grasped it for myself. Let alone actually forgive myself for things I have done knowingly and unknowingly that hurt or offended others. This time around feels  different.  And, what sums it up for me is written from an excerpt of Eleanor O’Hanlon’s “The Eyes of the Wild” out of ‘Parabola: The Search for Meaning’ publication from October, 2019:

“The usual categories of understanding, based on the separation between human consciousness and the consciousness of the whale, are made meaningless by the power of their presence – life meeting life, consciousness meeting consciousness, in recognition and peace.”

‘In recognition and peace’ Eleanor writes.

 How profound, to recognize the Grey Whale, the bear, the eagle, our neighbor, the convict, the attacker, our parents, our selves in recognition and peace.  To let down the illusion of separation.

Khalil Gibran put a similar sentiment in such a poetic way:

“Oftentimes I have heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world. But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each of you, so the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also. And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, so the wrongdoer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all. Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self. You are the way and the wayfarers.And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone.  Ay, And he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone.”


Out of his book “The Prophet”, from the excerpt when one of the judges of the city asked for him to speak of crime and punishment.

When reading this it truly gives me a sense of responsibility with forgiveness and what true forgiveness could have in effect upon relationships; relationship to One’s self, relationships with others, and societal relationships between countries and groups of people.  We have a responsibility to pick up the stumbling stones of fear and of not knowing each other, that mystery and misunderstanding due to no true connection.  We have a responsibility to listen to our own heart and the hearts of others so that we can see each other in the Sameness and Oneness of love.  

 

Diana D., one of our Journey to the Peak members asked the beautiful question, “what would be possible through forgiveness?  And, how quiet the mind of a society would be if forgiveness was modeled.”*  

 

What if forgiveness was modeled more?  How can I model forgiveness? How can we model forgiveness? One place we could model forgiveness is incarceration here in America. I just watched a bitter sweet video the other day of a father returning home from over 25 years in prison. He was welcomed deeply into the arms of his own son, who is now a father himself. And, yes, these are black men and black families who you see crying in deep love for each other. Renewed connections on soul levels. Seeing each other as who they are in that very moment. Wanting love again, to be with each other, to laugh again, play again, and have peace.

*”Peace is a quiet mind.”

Ragunath Campo (A link to his forgiveness podcast that shares this quote is noted at the bottom of the blog).

It was my own mother who reminded us in this past Sunday Morning Special class that through the Christian faith, God does not remember your sins when you ask for forgiveness. And I thought how beautiful that God meets us right where we’re at. Just like yoga meets us right where we’re at when we come to the mat.  Yoga is not holding a grudge against us when we step on our mat! Yoga meets us for who we are at this moment.

 

What if we met each other with such intimacy and immediate presence just now? And what if we offered the same thing to our self?

Mark Nepo writes from his book entitled “The Book of Awakening”:

“We are the stage and all the players.”

 

… But just as germs must run their course, all the players in our dramas must be voiced before they will leave us be. Just as we keep trying to get what we never got from someone else who doesn’t know our game, we also keep the trespass alive by re-enacting it on others nearby until we can humbly know what is to be hurtful — the first step toward forgiveness.”

 

He goes on to write:

“The pain was necessary to know the truth but we don’t have to keep the pain alive to keep the truth alive.”

 “What it really comes down to is the clearness of heart to stop defining who I am by those who have hurt me and to take up the risk to love myself, to validate my own existence, pain and all, from the center out.”

… “Forgiveness has deeper rewards than excusing someone for how they have hurt us. The deeper healing comes in the exchange of our resentments for inner freedom. At last, the wound, even if never acknowledged by the other person, can heal, and our life can continue.”

..”It is useful to realize that the word forgive originally meant both to give and receive — to “give for”.

Anodea Judith writes, from her book “Eastern Body Western mind”:

“Forgiveness is said to be the ultimate step in healing. Forgiveness uses the compassion of the heart to understand situations in terms of the forces that were acting on both ourselves and others.”

Richard Smoley in his article entitled “Why forgive?” out of Parabola writes:

“Then, too, much of what passes for forgiveness is little more than sanctimonious egotism. You “forgive” out of a sense of noblesse oblige — It is an act of condescension, a favor bestowed upon an inferior. From this position of lordliness we bestow forgiveness as we might toss a coin at a beggar.”

He continues later in his article about the law of karma suggesting one answer in why we should forgive…

“The law of karma suggests one answer. A given cause has a like effect; Good begets good, and evil, evil.” … “The philosophies of India have intricate explanations for why this recompense is not instantaneous: they speak of samskaras, “seeds of karma,” that will sooner or later blossom in the right circumstances, in this lifetime or another.”

I wrote about samskaras and forgiveness in my blog that I mentioned earlier if you would like to go back.  Samskaras are the mental imprints and impressions we have, and they can be pleasant or negative.

 

Jodi Picoult wrote,

 

 

“Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else.  It’s something you do for yourself.  It’s saying “you’re not important enough to have a stronghold on me”.  It’s saying, “you don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future”

 

I forgive myself for all the energy, mental space, time, and emotional output that I have spent replaying past events that have hurt me and to the people who offended me.  It is our choice how long we give our energy to something and it is our choice what we give our attention to, very much like the drishti of yoga. Where am I going to put my attention and focus, my inner ‘gaze’? As I put my attention towards love, compassion, and loving kindness, it is easier for me to forgive and then live into peace.

 

Robin Sharma wrote: “Forgiveness isn’t approving what happened, it’s choosing to rise above it.”. I wrote in my previous blog on forgiveness, as taken off of this quote that, “I began to speak to how forgiveness is not only not needing to approve what happened, but that forgiveness does not require that we forget either. And that perhaps in some cases, to forget would not be the best thing because there was a lot of learning from the experience.”

 

It was Oprah Winfrey who said,

“True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘Thank you for that experience’.”

 

Desmond Tutu wrote,

 “Forgiveness is not weak. It takes courage to face and overcome powerful emotions.”

 

He also wrote out of the Parabola publication, “To forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger. These emotions are all part of being human. You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things: The depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.” 

 

Thank you so much guru Tutu, your words give so much freedom inside of me and allow me to experience all that I do feel! 

And thank you so much for my journey to the peak family and community and those who joined in the Sunday morning special on February 20th, 2022!  You helped me see deeper into what forgiveness is and a process to which I can support myself in offering forgiveness to myself and others.

 

You reminded me that forgiveness is “refusal to hold ill will against someone”- anonymous

You reminded me that “I can’t forgive until I have fully feeled”! -Randi

He shared with me that “forgiveness acknowledges change”.-Diana

I’m thinking of the song “I’m not ready to make nice” by Dixie Chicks

Catherine shared the saying “hurt people, hurt people and healed people, heal people”.

 

 

To me I almost cried when in the physical practice Patrick asked us to hold our own foot with our hand, fingers between our toes, as if we were holding hands with ourself. And I nearly came to tears because it felt as If I could be the one to hold my own hand. Just like a parent picks up a child who has fallen and scraped their knee, I can offer my own love and compassion to myself, hold my own hand through whatever is troubling and painful, and say to myself that we will get through this together.

 

 

May you step on your mat today, and meet yourself as who you are right now! Just as the mat meets you, Yoga meets you, Source meets you.  No grudges, no assumptions, no expectations, just open love, compassion, loving kindness and joy.

 

 

Love,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

 

P.S.

 

Here’s Ragunath and Kastuba Das podcast ‘Wisdom of the Sages’ episode:

 

 

carving out a little sadhana routine / yoga is reclaiming our freedom from the mind / material sound is exhausting / push through the flavorless period to develop taste for sadhana / withdrawing the senses / make the mind a friend / transcending the modes of nature through meditation on Krishna / put up a roadblock on the path of revenge / the universe is held together by forgiveness / forgiveness is a quiet mind / forgiveness is the highest virtue 3.28.11

 

 

* duration: 57:11, Played: 55:29

 

 

* Published: 11/19/21 6:50:53 AM

 

 

* Episode Download link (26 MB): https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/wisdomofthesages/0584_A_online-audio-converter.com.mp3?dest-id=1755320

 

 

* Show Notes: https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/wisdomofthesages/0584_A_online-audio-converter.com.mp3

 

 

* Episode feed: Wisdom of the Sages – https://wisdomofthesages.libsyn.com/rss

 

The picture shows compassion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s always interesting to read an article that I had written in a different space and time. And then to see where the same topic and intention holds true and where it feels different today.

 

Continuing in this month of exploring love, we arrive at compassion.

 

It’s important to start back at week one, in finding the home of love, our own heart(link is below). And reconnecting with the center of all things, the heart, our relationship with our own heart becomes necessary to better understand, embody, and live in ways of the heart. The ways of the heart being varied and diverse and beautiful such as devotion, compassion, forgiveness, empathy, understanding, and connection.

 

All of it is always relational.

 

If you want to go back here is the blog from week one and here is the blog on devotion from week two.

 

This time around as I approach the topic of compassion, a new experience in life happened:

 

My son has learned how to tie shoes and he has the need to always have a double knot. He has learned that with a pair of his sneakers he can sometimes leave the double knot in place and simply slip his shoes off. He also has discovered that when he leaves the knot in place it means he’s got to figure out how to put his shoes back on! 

 

The picture shows the bloggers son trying to tie a shoe knot

 

Learning to go right at the center of the knot, literally and figuratively

Sometimes he’s successful as struggling with the shoe to get it back on without having to untie it. And other times I watch him get very frustrated with the knot. He’s frustrated because he has not yet learned how to untie the double knot. 

 

I tell him that it does not help to get frustrated with the knot or with himself. That it’s going to be better if he takes a deep breath and approaches it calmly. But I feel for him because I know what struggle and frustration can feel like for me!  Sometimes I just want somebody else to take over and complete the tasks so that I can rest and relax.

 

But on this given day, as he was struggling, I was very grounded, already breathing deeply, and we were not in a rush to get out the door.  Instead of taking over and untying the not for him, I heard myself say these words:

 

“You need to slow down and go right into the center of the knot.  Start to loosen the lace string by string until it starts to come undone. Then you can more easily untie the knot, and then you just retie it after you put it on your foot.”

 

I knew I was onto something when I said those first few words. I could feel it in my body. I almost teared up.

You need to slow down and go right into the center of the knot.

This is compassion. To slow down and to offer your attention (devotion) to whomever or whatever is needing support and offer it without judgment. Whether it’s your own heart, or the person addicted to substances, the person that’s wronged you, a family member, a friend, or a complete stranger. Even our dear planet Earth deserves compassion!

 

Compassion by definition is ‘sympathy and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others'(Oxford). In the classical teachings of the Buddhist tradition compassion is defined as “the heart that trembles in the face of suffering. … Compassion is the acknowledgment that not all pain can be ‘fixed’ or ‘solved’ but all suffering is made more approachable in a landscape of compassion”.  -Stanford 

 

The last time I wrote a blog about compassion I also resourced Jack Kornfield’s book entitled “The Wise Heart; a guide to the universal teachings of Buddhist psychology”. And I am resourcing his book again but in a different area from his book. In it, he shares about the four radiant abodes. The four radiant abodes are loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity or peace.  

 

He writes:

“These abodes are treasured because of the natural human happiness they express. They are immediate and simple, the universal description of an open heart. … 

Love is our true nature, but as we have seen, it is covered over by a protective layer of fear. We have learned how Buddhist practices unearth the gold beneath the clay and return us to our natural goodness. Even though this love is innate, the Buddhist path also uses systematic trainings to cultivate this love. They strengthen our capacity for love, compassion, joy, and peace. The practices that develop these qualities combine repeated thoughts, visualization, and feelings. These trainings have been employed by millions of practitioners to transform their own hearts.

 

When the radiant abodes are developed, they’re complimentary qualities help to balance one another. This balance is considered essential in Buddhist psychology. Because love, compassion, and joy can lead to excessive attachment, their warmth needs to be balanced with equanimity.  Because equanimity can lead to excessive detachment, it’s coolness needs to be balanced with love, compassion, and joy. Established together, these radiant qualities express optimal mental harmony.

 

The natural flow of these awakened qualities comes from inner peace. When consciousness is peaceful and open, we rest in equanimity. As our peaceful heart meets other beings, it fills with love. When this love meets pain, it transforms itself naturally into compassion. And when this same open-hearted love meets happiness, it becomes joy. In this way the radiant abodes spontaneously reflect and connect the whole of the world.”

 

He states that the 26th principle of Buddhist psychology is “A peaceful heart gives birth to love. When love meets suffering it turns to compassion. When love meets happiness, it turns to joy.”

 

So as I watched Max take a deep breath and slowly return back to the knot, I could feel an energetic shift. This shift is a shift back towards love.

 

Perhaps you’ve experienced a shift in your energy or someone else’s energy when compassion is offered?

Though Max was not completely successful on his own to completely untie the knot, we both experienced much more joy and ease as he so gently and sweetly asked for help. And together we untied the knot!  It loosened the strings of my heart at that moment! And I nearly cried again! 

 

A place that needs this compassion most is also within One’s own heart. 

 

I don’t know if Max knew he was offering himself compassion, but the embodied shift that allowed him to approach the frustration and upset energy was the act of self love and self support. We don’t need to ‘fix’ or ‘solve’ all of our own traumas and pain points in our heart in one fell swoop.  We can use a sacred pause, rejuvenate our wells of love and patience, and then go back and approach the pain when we are grounded and ready.  

 

We can go into the “knot” and loosen one part of it, release, breathe, and then go back again.  We just touch the hurt for a moment, approaching it from a place of love and compassion.  Then, gradually over time, we loosen.  Our heart opens.  And we can live in more peace, equanimity and joy. The love arises, as this beautiful quote from Lin Jensen so perfectly describes:

 

“To be truly and wholly present even for the briefest moment is to be vulnerable, for we have arrived at the point where the obstacle that fear constructs between ourselves and others dissolves.  It is here that the heart is drawn out of hiding and the inherent sympathetic response called compassion arises.” -Lin Jensen, ‘An ear to the ground’

 

I once wrote a one line poem:

Our heart is a tangled web of strings meant to be plucked.

I feel this is still true in life today.

 

It is heartfelt connections that are so deeply needed in our world today. It’s this type of slowing down and breathing with each other and meeting each other on a heart level to say ‘I got you, let’s do this together, and I love you’. These connections are so needed for our humanity to move forward with grace and love so that our global community can transform in the magical and beautiful ways that I know we can.

 

I invite you into this compassion meditation as you hold the compassion mudra, Karuna mudra.

 

Karuna Mudra:

Watch me perform it and write about how to do it HERE.

 

Meditation:

Repeat these words and vibrations

“May you be held in compassion.

May your pain and sorrow be eased.

May you be at peace.”

 

Love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.

 


 

 

By definition, devotion is “Love, loyalty, and enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause”.

 

At the end of last week’s class, which you can read in that blog here, I repeatedly heard myself using the words attention and presence. It reminded me of Mary Oliver’s quote that I have always adored,

Attention is the beginning of devotion

It’s so imperative to begin to offer ourselves our own undivided attention.

To offer ourselves our own presence. It’s so important because having a loving and supportive relationship with ourself, and to be able to listen to our own body, mind and heart, is what will guide us to truth. It will guide us not only to our truth, and the Truth of the universe that is love, but it will also guide us towards truth here on earth. We will be able to discern what is true and what is not true, and we will have that ability to trust our instincts and intuition, and to see and feel what is resonating with us. This becomes important when we begin to choose to offer devotion outwards. Then we will devote our energy and efforts towards those things that are loving and good. And we will also be able to discern when we need to leave, or when something is not meant for us. And we can walk away even with love in our hearts.

 

Why, first, the relationship with self is so important?

It is so that we do not become wrongly attached, or enmeshed with someone else so much so that we lose ourselves…

The aspects of attachment and freedom are aspects of the heart chakra. These qualities are of the hearts longing for connection and simultaneously desire for freedom. And this is why the heart chakra also is the home of the essence of balance. For, we are creatures of connection and community. We need such a community to survive and to also feel purpose and meaning. And at the same time, the freedom to be who we are and to do the things that we love to do separate from the community, or even a partner, are the supportive acts in life that allow us to feel such freedom of our spirit. It becomes a dance of holding on and letting go, of connecting and releasing, of pulling in and pushing away. This dance is needed and it is a part of life. It also is the dance just like this within our own emotions.

Rollo May wrote,

To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive — to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before.

I think of my kids right here. I am so devoted to them. And, I love them so deeply that I want them to experience all that life has to offer, and I know that that requires a level of non-attachment to them on my part. To offer them freedom to spread their wings and explore! And, to love them so deeply that I can still be a loving foundation for them to always fly back to and to rest and to know no matter what they do or what happens in their life that I will love them unconditionally.


Sacred Space

Sadhguru writes, “… Emotion has always been the dominant factor in human beings


When you are overwhelmed by something or someone, you naturally become devout. But if you try to practice devotion, it creates problems because the line between devotion and deception is very thin – It will lead you into so many kinds of hallucinations. So you cannot practice devotion, but you can do certain things so that you arrive at devotion. If you just recognize one thing, you will naturally become a devotee: The cosmos is very large”. What he is saying here is to recognize the cosmos, to give your attention and presence to the cosmos. Because they are so vast and large and we have even yet no idea how large, it changes our perspective. 

He says that it will become very natural for us to be devoted when we move our perspective towards that which is so profound, beautiful, vast, indescribable, divine. And he reminds us that we are a part of it all. This is why he says, “It is only because people have lost perspective of who they are and what their place in this existence is, that they have become arrogant fools”.

He goes on to state, “If you pay attention to the nature of creation, how can you not be a devotee?”


Sadguru continues, “If you learn to look at everything around you with attention and care, you will realize that you cannot even figure the nature of an atom in its entirety. Everything is above your intelligence. Everything is higher than yourself, you will naturally become devout. A devotee knows things that you cannot even imagine. He can grasp things that you have to struggle with because there is not much of him within himself. When you are too full of self, there is no room for anything higher to happen.


Devotion does not mean you have to be a temple going, Pooja doing, coconut breaking person. A devotee has understood what his place in the existence is. If you have understood this and are conscious of it, you will walk as a devout person. There is no other way to be. It is a very intelligent way to exist. … Devotion is a multiplied and enhanced version of a love affair. A devotee is in an unfailing kind of love affair because if you fall in love with a man or a woman, they do not go the way you expect them to, and eventually gets into some trouble. That is why people choose God. It is simply a love affair, and you are not expecting any response. Your life becomes utterly beautiful because your emotion has become so sweet. Through that sweetness, one grows. That is devotion. Devotion is another dimension of intelligence. Intellect wants to conquer the truth. Devotion just embraces the truth. Devotion cannot decipher but devotion can experience. Intellect can decipher but can never experience. This is the choice one has to make.”

 

What is your vision of love?

I asked that question here because when we hold our inner gaze always towards that love, that is the moment of the change of our perspective, that changes our emotion, that connects us to all in the universe. And, it connects us to That within our self. And then we do know our place in existence. And we see how we are then devoted to our own self, as well as all other beings, and all of nature, and all of the cosmos. All is one.

I love this statement from Mindy Newman and Kaia Fischer Who wrote in their article “The karmic power of devotion” out of the Buddhist magazine, ‘Tricycle’:

“True devotion does not actually drain us. It is a source of vibrant energy that makes our commitments come alive and become a source of joy.”

How true!


I know that when I am enthusiastic and love a cause or a person, it makes me feel alive and vibrant. It brings me joy to help serve even a cause that comes from some pain or suffering, but it’s because there is connection and healing and love that is being shared.

It brings my perspective to the beauty of life. To the beauty of love. To the beauty of connection with my neighbor as we pass each other holding the door open for each other saying hello and have a great day. It changes my perspective and seeing the beauty in all of the smallest moments of life, up to the big milestone events of life!

And that is why I close not only this blog but I have been closing these classes with this well-known poem by Mary Oliver, “the summer day”:


Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
The one who has flung herself out of the grass,
The one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
Who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
Who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
How to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
Which is what I’ve been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

This time as I read it, it felt as if she was asking me, what do I want to devote my love, enthusiasm, and loyalty to? I know some of my answers to this question, what are yours?


The next time I read the poem, I realized she was giving her full attention to that grasshopper. How loving! And, what a beautiful way to look at all things; with wonder, love, devotion, and the ability to recognize the entire Universe within It. The entire Universe within one creature, one being, one plant, one atom. All is One, and You, dear Reader, are so important and a part of It all.



Devotedly,

Shawna 🙏🏻
Breathe and Believe.

Exploring the concept of love 

 

You have a right to love and be loved.

 

This month of “Journey to the Peak,” February 2022, with Patrick Heffernan and myself, is about the peak pose of ‘love.’  I wanted to look at the scope of the whole month. What are different aspects of love? Where and how do we love?  What does it mean to love?  To receive love?

 

What is your concept of love based on?

 

As I thought about it, I knew that we must start with the place of love. So, this first week of February is entitled:

“Meeting the home of love, your heart.”

 

I knew that before we can expand into even listening to the heart, we first have to find it. And knowing that our heart is the home from which love comes in and love comes out, we first have to approach it.

 

This presupposes that you, dear reader, and that I, myself, have a desire to connect with love and therefore, with our Self.

What do you innately and intuitively know could happen if you were to offer love to yourself?

 

So, how do we meet the home of love, our hearts?  How do we get there?

 

There are many ways, but in this week we move to meet our hearts through the body, the breath, and a self-reflective consciousness. A self-reflective consciousness is the essence that the heart center, the heart chakra, invites us to be in. To be aware of ourselves, our emotions, and our body. To listen to these places and to start to make meaning out of what we notice.

 

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

I like how Anodea Judith writes about this in her book, “Eastern Body Western Mind; psychology and the chakra system as a path to the self”. 

 

She writes:

“One of the prime areas of balance in the heart chakra is between mind and body. This occurs through learning to decipher the body’s messages. This involves distinct inner listening on the part of the mind to the body’s subtle communications and often leads to recovering memories, working through traumas, releasing stored tensions, and completing unresolved emotional transactions. Through this process various parts of our experience are reconnected. Feelings are reconnected with mental images. Impulses are integrated with belief systems. Sensation is connected with meaning. This is the work of self-reflection–allowing the mind to behold our experience in the body.

 If work on our lower chakras has brought us fully into our body, we are now ready to integrate that awareness into higher levels of complexity and understanding.

As we begin to understand and come to know the meanings of sensations in our body, emotions that we experience, and how our breath is moving or not moving, we begin to be able to see how we can help ourselves.

 

We begin to see how we can truly heal ourselves.  

By doing this, we are in the act of self love. And love is an action.

 

We also see where we can begin to practice self-love, self-acceptance, self-forgiveness, self-gratitude, self-respect, self-appreciation!  We begin to practice listening to and loving our body, listening to and loving our heart, and learning how to discern the messages we receive; discerning with mind, heart and body!

 

And to get here, we must say yes to ourselves. We must be willing to begin this journey of relationship with ourselves! No matter your age, situation in life, no matter if you are partnered or not, no matter if you’ve taken a shower today or not, will you say yes to yourself right now?

 

Will you say yes to being in a relationship with yourself right now?! 

YES!

 

Say it out loud! Stand up if you’d like, add a physical posture that embodies this newfound love that you are claiming! The new found love that you are committing to for yourself, towards yourself!

 

How does that feel? What is your body telling you? What are the emotions? Feel free to write and let me know.

 

I’d like to share a personal story here.  At a big turning point in my life, I now realize that I was actually saying yes to my Self!  This would allow me to eventually find my lifelong partner…Somewhere in my late 20’s or maybe early 30’s, I began to really desire a serious and committed relationship. Even though I was considering what I wanted my partner to be giving me, and asking myself if I could give that to him, what I was also doing was commiting to loving myself in the same way. Back then, I didn’t see it as choosing to love myself. I was focused on the characteristics and qualities of what I wanted in my partner and in the relationship. I now see that I was also naming those same characteristics and qualities that I wanted in myself.

 

If open communication, vulnerability, courageous support, unconditional acceptance, adventure, love of the outdoors, spontaneity as well as planning, and so much more were qualities that I was seeking in another, it was also what I was promising to myself, from myself.  I can only see this now looking back. I can see how I was beginning to take myself more seriously, how I was shifting the view of how I saw myself, and was beginning to really love myself.

 

It feels like a paradigm shift. And to be honest, my brain feels kind of tingly from this new perspective in the way of seeing it. But it also makes me excited and emotional. It makes me get a little choked up, and I feel joy in my body, I feel positive vibration in my chest, and I notice that I feel free and I’m swaying in my physicality right now, as I write.

 

Anodea Judith writes in her book, “Wheels of life,”  that

“Self-acceptance is our first chance to practice unconditional love”.  

 

I remember reading this and being really struck by this message.  And also how interesting, to look back upon my life right now coming up on the age of 42 this month, that this holds true.  

 

It reminds me of the adage that goes, ‘if you cannot love yourself how can you love another?’ 

 

From certain yogic standpoints, I feel that it holds true.  For example, if I did not love myself enough then I might always go seeking others’ love, seeking others approval of myself, and equating myself, my value, my worth to what somebody else determined.

 

Another cliche is that ‘if you love someone enough, you would let them go’. That I love even myself so much that I could release myself. That would have no fear of death. Very Yogic right there. 

)

So, I want you to remember, dear reader, that you have a right to love and be loved.

You don’t need to do anything to earn it.

You don’t need to look a certain way to deserve it.

You don’t need to act a certain way to receive it.

You only need to be yourself.

 

And the best way to know this, feel this, embody this, and your first way to experience this is to give love to yourself.

Now that you’ve committed to this new relationship with yourself, and you have entered the home of love, your heart, take a deep breath! Smile at yourself in the mirror. Look into your eyes deeply and lovingly. And say to yourself, “I love you”. Repeat this EVERY day.

 

 

 

Wu-Wei is a practice of striving less to generate more success

A recent article from ‘psychology today’ caught my eye. It’s about the Wu-Wei Paradox: Striving Less Generates more success. The article, written by a triathlon athlete, talks about the philosophy of wu-wei, or “non action”. Now, I should share with you first of all, that the idea of effortless effort has been on my radar for a few weeks. What does that even mean? How can that even be? Doesn’t anything we want to make happen take effort, even our own thoughts to think in positive ways? Keep reading to find out my take on it.

Consider this definition of wu-wei; “The practice of taking no action that is not in accord with the natural course of the universe”. This definition helped me the most and actually reminded me of last week’s intention around integrity.

When we are living in harmony with our True Self that is the Invisible-Absolute (Universe/Source/God), meaning that we are living in integrity, then we are in harmony with the flow of the Universe. Because you are the Universe, You are actually always living in life’s easeful and loving energy, or flow. It is when we think that things are a mess, difficult, and that life is a struggle, that we are making more effort. When we are making choices and decisions that are out of alignment with our True Nature and out of alignment, therefore, with the natural flow of Universal love for oneself and all beings, we create friction. We create the suffering.

The yogis tell us this time and time again, including in the yoga sutras. In the yoga sutras we come to learn and understand that yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. When we have a more quiet mind, we can hear that unchanging, universal, abiding and loving presence within. We remember that we are whole as we are. We can act in accordance with that place within our heart that is whole, that is unchanging, that is integrity.

This is why the purna mantra has meant so much to me over the years. And I recently discovered that it is the invocation peace chant for the Isa upanishad! Listen to the mantra here.

Swami Paramananda translation of the purna mantra states:
“OM! That (The Invisible-Absolute is whole; whole is this (the visible phenomenal;

From the Invisible Whole comes forth the visible whole. Though the visible whole has come out from that Invisible Whole, yet the Whole remains unaltered.

OM! Peace! Peace! Peace!”
*Invisible-Absolute meaning God, or Universe, or in Daoism and Taoism, the ‘Way’, or “wei”.

The Universal Essence is the Unchanging, that place within our heart is the unchanging place. Everything comes from this Essence. Even those things that are tangible that we can see, come from this Essence. We came forth from this Essence, and we will return to this Essence.

We are made up of the same “stuff” as the stars, moon, mountains, rivers, cosmos, wind, Essence of the Universe/Invisible-Absolute. We are That.
We are the Universe.And because we are That, we are already integrity. We already are ease, goodness, Light, love, and All the words that we use to try to describe this Universal Essence.

So why does life feel hard sometimes? Why does life feel like it’s challenging us sometimes? Why does life feel like it’s only blocking us and creating friction?

Why does life feel like a struggle sometimes?

What a lot of the spiritual texts tell us, including in yoga, is that it is our mind. It is those “fluctuations of the mind”(yoga sutras) that we are trying to cease that are the actions that are not in accordance with the natural course of the universe. Not in wu-wei. Whether we make them up or whether they’ve entered on their own, it is the thoughts that cause us to think, and sometimes even cause us to believe, that life is a struggle.

This is why the 2021 Asian Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology findings, out of the ‘psychology today’ article above, was so fascinating to me. They found that “By not overly involving cerebral cognitive systems, an athlete increases the likelihood of experiencing frictionless flow”. Or, in other words, they were in the zone. They were in the flow!

This reminded me of the ashtanga method of physical practice in yoga.

In the ashtanga method they use the same routine and structure of physical alignments in their series. This is why in my classes this week we are using at the beginning of practice Sun salutations. Sun salutations are sequences of postures that you do repeatedly. Doing these repetitive physical practices that one then becomes familiar with, lends itself to entering into the state of wu-wei, effortless effort.

Another practice that lends itself to being in a state of frictionless flow, effortless effort, and to be “resolutely abiding in a good space,” is to meditate.

To focus on your breath, and to release in your body, and to quietly focus to the flow of the breathing so that less thoughts are present in the minds eye, can help bring about connection to that place in the heart of integrity, that Unchanging Essence, the Invisible-Absolute.

A lot of yogis will also sit in a posture called sukhasana, or easeful pose. Picture someone seated cross-legged, and you have the posture. Sukham means gentle, ease, happy, good. Sukhasana is the easful posture; though some people do not feel at ease seated across leg. This is why we do the physical postures and yoga to help enable our bodies to sit with more ease, with less physical distraction, so that our mind can enter into the space of ease. To support the mind into that place of gentleness and ease, we can use the breath to focus on, or a mantra.

And all of these practices help us to connect to that place within our heart that brings about ease and peace in the moment. And therefore, As we move about our life and our days, helps us to stay in that place of love, ease, happiness, and compassion for ourselves and others.

The yoga sutra 2:46 states, “Sthira Sukham Asanam”.

I love the yoga internationals translation of this that states, “resolutely abide in a good space”. This is what we try to be in every Asana, posture. And I invite us a whole to apply this to our mental space as well.

If we say life is hard, life is hard. If we see life as hard, it will feel hard. But we can choose to make the effort to not see it as such.

Even if we see life as hard, we do not have to become hard ourselves. For it is a choice, which will take some effort, to resolutely and courageously choose to always be seeing the good in life. When we make this effort, we support ourselves in living the effortless, fluid, happy life.

Sthira means “grounded, steadiness, resolute, courageous.”
Sukham means, “gentle, ease, happy, good.”

Stay steady in your happiness.
Be courageous to be good.
Be courageous to be kind.
Get grounded in ease.
Stay steady in your gentleness.

If you want to watch a hilarious clip from the movie, ‘forgetting Sarah Marshall’, That encompasses the philosophy of wu-wei, effortless effort, and Sthira Sukham, then watch HERE (https://youtu.be/PKIpCPS-oZc )!!

In Peace and Ease,
Shawna
Breathe and Believe.

Mark Nepo in his book ‘The Book of Awakening’ wrote a passage on integrity.  This book holds a passage for every day of the year.  He started with a quote from Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man and then expands:

Integrity is the ability to listen to a place inside oneself that doesn’t change, even though the life that carries it may change.”-Rabbi Omer-Man

Much of our journey throughout this book has been about discovering that place inside and cultivating the ability to listen to it, while having compassion for the life that carries it. 


 It moves me to share the story of a troubled man who, exhausted from his suffering and confusion, asked a sage for help. The sage looked deeply into the troubled man and with compassion offered him a choice: “You may have either a map or a boat.”

After looking at the many pilgrims about him, all of whom seemed equally troubled, the confused man said, “I’ll take the boat.”

The sage kissed him on the forehead and said, “go then. You are the boat. Life is to sea.”


As we have discovered so many times, we have everything we need within us. This ability to listen inside is our oldest oar.  You are the boat.”-Mark Nepo


I truly appreciate his little meditation that he offers after this passage that invites us to sit quietly, put down all our maps for the moment, and to let our breath take us safely out to sea.  Then to just breathe gently, bob there and listen.


What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of expectation and future envisioning?

What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of regret and questioning of the past?

What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of design for your hopes and dreams, and just listen?

What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of struggle to get out of stuckness, and just listen?

 

You might wonder what you’re listening to? It’s that place that the Rabbi was speaking to, that place that is unchanging; it is the place of your heart. It is That place that lives and breathes within you that is pure and good.  It is that place within you that is whole, divine, and infinite.  It is that place within your physical heart that is, at best, indescribable.


And yet, when we do listen, we can hear the soft whispers of our soul.


When we do listen, we can hear the voice of wisdom and knowledge that tells us we do in fact have everything we need within us.

I think this is why the man chose the boat. Something in him knew, perhaps beyond the shadow of a doubt, that all he needed was the mode of transportation to get out of the place of suffering.  He knew he could find the way, he just needed to take action on the path of alignment. Something within him knew that if he just listened deeply to his heart and to his knowing that he would find his way out of his confusion. He chose to listen! He put the ‘oar’ in the sea of life.


This is why the Sage and Mark Nepo describe this action of listening and aligning with that unchanging place that lives within our heart as the oldest oar.  It is the listening that is synonymous to placing an oar in the water and moving the boat forward. 

Listening and aligning to that place in our heart that is unchanging within our changing world of our own psyche and our external environments is what moves us out of our own suffering.  


When we get quiet, that place within our heart speaks to us. It is up to us to be dedicated to the place of the heart and to listen to it. To offer ourselves our own devotion to that sacred place within.

 

 I imagine this is why the Sage is still in this place where all these ‘troubled’ pilgrims are. That the sage knows that no matter where he lives, no matter his physical external environment, he has this place within himself that is True Home. This place within his own heart that he has the practices and tools to realign with time and time again. And in aligning, he experiences such peace, rest and ease that nothing troubles him, not even his own thoughts.


Martha Beck states that “what upsets people is not what happens to them, but their thoughts about what happens.” Hmmm, I invite you to ponder this one for a while.


 Integrity by definition is:

-The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

-The state of being whole and undivided

In her book, ‘The Way of Integrity’, Martha Beck describes integrity as “a way of being in harmony with oneself.”

Yoga teaches us that we are whole and complete as we are. Purna, “whole, full.”


How do you get in integrity? 

How do you remember that you are already in integrity?

What are your practices of listening to that place inside yourself that is unchanging?

This next, and last, question is one where I find most challenging living as a human being on planned earth…

How do you uphold your own integrity when making decisions?

 

And yet even as I write that, it seems almost ridiculous. It’s not difficult to uphold our own integrity when making decisions when we ARE making those decisions from the place of wholeness and from the place of the heart.  But here’s where I offer myself, and I offer you dear reader, compassion for us, as we are the vessels that hold this unchanging place within us. 


Oprah said, “Good riddance to decisions that don’t support self-value, self-care, and self-support.” 


I invite you this week to make a decision from the unchanging place within yourself. If you’ve ever signed up for my newsletter you received a PDF of my top 10 ways of how to live a more aligned life.  So, become aligned. Yoga holds many practices of how to connect with that place within our heart. 


Come to any of my classes! And be on the lookout for offerings coming this year that will support you in embodying this place within your heart, connecting to it, listening to it, and living your life in alignment with it.  Because you are That!  Celebrate That within you!


“There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate.” -Robert Brault



All my love,

Shawna 

Breathe and Believe.

A Somatic Healing therapy to help spiritual seekers, self-growth enthusiasts and heart-centered beings align to their soul’s purpose

ALIGN sessions are the culmination of 18 years of my practices of yoga, Thai massage and life coaching fused into one!

 

I’ve met countless students, clients and friends who’ve confessed about not having clarity about their chosen paths in life, who struggle with self-belief, who find it hard to listen to their heart’s deep wisdoms and make choices that feel right, who feel stuck in some aspects of their lives – be it relationships, career, self-love and are unable to see much progress despite their best efforts. 

It’s human to experience self-doubt, fear, uncertainty, suffering in different phases of our lives and/or in certain aspects of our lives and if you find yourself resonating with any of those experiences described above, know that you are not alone.

 

However, there is a path to getting unstuck.

 

 

Those who are brave and vulnerable enough to face their fears, recognize their needs and take the road towards self-discovery and transformation are seldom held back from discovering the truth of who they are. From that place of intuitive knowing, we can heal ourselves, bring clarity, powerful presence, purpose, peace and bliss into our lives – and in all aspects of our lives.

 

I KNOW you CAN stand steadfast in your Truth when challenges arise! I know you CAN be malleable and flexible while still holding healthful boundaries and upholding your worth!  I BELIEVE in YOUR ability. Period.  Whether it’s your ability to face a fear, a trauma, a hurt, or to face an exciting possibility, an unknown opportunity, I have every faith in you, your heart, and the innate wisdom in your body that you can. Whatever it is you want, you can.

 

As mentioned in my previous blog ‘Without Reflections How Can We See?’ I spoke about the the truth of my work and my life’s purpose, which is to support others in feeling their worth, knowing they have a right to be here, that they are loved and are full of possibility. When you heal, we all heal. When I heal, we all heal. We are all one, one Energy, one Love. I will forever continue to help others heal.

 

 

And with this in mine, I am thrilled to introduce my latest offer ALIGN

 

 

What is ALIGN and who is it meant for?

A.L.I.G.N. is an acronym for:

Alive

Loving

Imagined

Guided

Nurtured

 

 

These sessions are divinely guided.  As I listen to my intuition as well as help others learn how to listen to their intuition and all the many different ways that it can come, what is revealed is the deepest truths from within the client’s heart.

 

In any given session, the client might move through any of the different modalities, and use any of the tools, that I have to offer. With the intention of always coming back to the body and listening deeply to what is in that moment, the client gleans their guiding truths that will lead them to the life that they envision. This supports the client with also laying down the firm foundations of how they will continue to live in ways that will uphold their core values, their true essence, and their authentic self.

 

Through the ALIGN sessions the client learns how to become their own guru, their own coach, their own Guide. Being better able to understand their bodies cues, their bodies emotional intelligence, their hearts deep wisdoms, their intuitive knowings, and deepening their trust within themselves as they strengthen their ability to discern the messages received from mind, body, and heart.

 

 

In any given session, physical movement, guided meditation, breath work, body exploration, and client centered dialogue could happen.

 

 

These are not just private yoga sessions. These are also not just life coaching sessions, though both yoga and life coaching are often used in tandem with the intention of what these align sessions are for. For example, you might be in a physical posture and experience a new physical or emotional sensation that you hadn’t before. In that moment I might invite you to explore that sensation a little more deeply and to just stay open if anything comes up from it, and explore what is revealed.  I will inquire what your intuitive sense is with making a connection in your life today from the experience of the moment, and what that connection might be and what it might mean. From there the possibility of action might come up in the offering and invitation to do some homework.

 

 

What’s Important to Know:

What’s most important is that client enter each session with open mind and open heart. No expectations and no judgements. And, of course, I do the same.  I set myself aside to become a channel for the moment, a space holder, and a mirror to reflect, lovingly challenge, and honor what takes shape in the session. The client may come to the session with a very specific topic to take a look at within their life.  No topic is too small or great. All is welcomed inside these sessions including tears and laughter. I hold space energetically and intentionally, even online. And there may be times that I ask you online to embody the experience of that moment and move in a certain way.

 

 

A typical session may last anywhere from 1 hour to 90 minutes. Sessions may be shorter. Anytime left from one session will be used at the next or to create an entirely different session for a different day.

 

 

Appointments, for now, will be done on Zoom with cameras and sound on. In the future, some appointments may be made in person to add touch therapy, Thai massage therapy, and energetic healing of holding space physically.

 

 

 

 Note: One time session is $155.00 and a 6 package session is $810.00 to be used within 3 months.  I have created a six session package but I’m open to taking on people who I have worked with, or students from the past, who might be willing to explore even a one-off session. I only have opening for one or two more long term clients with the possibility of space opening up in the near future. To know about my prices, please email me at shawnalight@gmail.com.

 

 

How did this all come to be for me?

Faith

 

 

I have been searching for many years how to bring the trilogy of my offerings into one, and when I took the Phoenix rising yoga therapy essentials course in February of 2020, I felt a complete resonance with “the work”.  Michael Lee, the creator of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, and the incredible book “The forgotten Body” by Elissa Cobb, and a mentor that I was divinely guided to find through a private yoga Facebook group for yoga teachers, have been supporting me in this work since that time.

 

I have now worked with a few clients over this past year who have been supportive and trusting of me. Most of them had taken my yoga classes in the past and knew my voice as a teacher and my energy as a person. To them I am grateful. They trusted me diving into this unknown and today I invite anyone who is serious about their own spiritual and personal growth to connect; for we know this helps heal the collective.

 

 

I am excited to step more onto my path as a Spiritual Somatic Healer.  And, trust me, it’s been many years in the making to be able to write that, state that, and now I am stepping into it. And that is what I want for YOU!…

 

 

I invite you to fully be alive. To fully come alive! To be fully living in each moment, prepared with the solid inner foundations because of your dedication to yourself, your Beloveds, and the world, you will be able to stay present.  Able to embody the love that you have with you and carry it into any and every moment of life, no matter what the moment has to hold.

Life is a fluctuation, but you can be steady in your efforts with mind, heart, body, and soul to create your ever evolving balance in your world.  Knowing and being able to discern with your heart, mind, and body, what is the loving choice and path for yourself.  For it starts there, with YOU!

If you are interested please email me at shawnalight@gmail.com

 

All my love and gratitude,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.

 

+ January Schedule Update

If I have seem quiet in newsletters and social media, there is an intentional reason for it.  As most of you probably know, I set out to spend the Winter Solstice and the holidays turning inward and just being with my family. And though I haven’t been completely off the grid, I have been doing what I set out to do; rather, I have been ‘Being’ what I intended to do, which is just Be.

 

Reflections from 2021

I have been serious in my reflections and supporting myself by leaning into many of my coaches, Guides, and more.  All of them have invited me to look back at 2021 and write down all the incredible things I did, accomplishments, and anything good that happened.  At first thought my heart sinks, my throat tightens, my gut can’t even move because it’s so clinched and I roll my eyes because 2021 was harder for me than 2020 on many levels. 

 

 

Took time to just ‘Be’ this December 2021

I invite you, dear reader, to take two minutes and do this exercise.  I bet you will be surprised.  Write down all that was amazing for you in 2021. 

 

Now, how do you feel?  What do you notice in your body?  Your emotions?  Just observe before rushing on.

I did it, though hesitant, and I cried when I stopped writing and really looked back. 2021 was definitely one of my most transformational years ever, short of becoming a Yoga teacher and a mother.

 

My Professional Milestones in 2021

  • I boldly chose to navigate keeping my offerings going on my own platforms after all my long time yoga studios/homes closed after 11, 12, and 13 years of my time with them.
  • I received multiple offers to start yoga programs(Thank you Source and the people who asked; more with this, I am sure!!). 
  • Because of those above offers, and other tough experiences this year, my own path is becoming more clear as to how I am being Lead to serve.
  • I took the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Essentials course and it was EVERYTHING!  It brought my trilogy of yoga, Thai massage, and life coaching together with a methodology.
  • So, I started with a mentor form the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy family.
  • I said yes to collaborations that started life long friendships and that have turned into incredible communities!  THANK YOU Patrick Heffernan, ‘Journey to the Peak’ community, and Liz Moyer, ‘Steadiness within the Change’/’Hibernation for Healing’ and others!
  • I said yes to myself, was terrified, and did it anyway with 7 other women who trust me: I created ‘Inner Strength: Reclaiming the Power You’ve Always Had”, a 7 month sacred women’s journey for transformation, embodiment, sisterhood, and so much more.  Thank you to Krishna Dholakia of ‘Om and Spice‘, Lauren Mahana of ‘Magic on the Patio‘ podcast, and Kim Chestney of ‘Intuition Lab’ for being my powerful guest speakers!
  • I began offering ‘A.L.I.G.N.’ (alive, loving, imagined, Guided, nurture) one-on-one sessions. *More about this coming out next week!
  • I learned more than I ever thought I could about surrender.
  • I found a new core value: acknowledgement.
  • I found two incredible yoga business coaches and continue to find their work to be profound. THANK YOU Mado Hesselink and Nick Demos!
  • I hired a Virtual Assistant and learned I should have done this years ago! Juzbi Walia you are incredible!
  • Can we all just say we navigated another year of a pandemic? Yes.
  • And for me, navigating it with two young, awesome kids and one incredible husband. Grateful.

I have been using this holiday break to be in practice, Communion, quiet, my movement practices, and being with my family. I am grateful I have some more time and will be setting the intention for 2022 to be doing this type of self care more often and to drink more water.

 

Without reflection how will we see?  How would we become clear on where we are now, where we have been, and where we are going/want to go/Guided to go?  What have you learned that you are taking away from this past year, dear reader?

When we enter into these sacred practices we enter into the path.  The path of knowing, feeling, and seeing in the birds-eye-view of just how grace and love work in our lives.  How the divine always supports each of us.

Events That Challenged me in 2021

  • All the studios I taught at for over a decade each closed, and one was just this October.
  • Close loved ones passed away, as well as dear friends mothers passing away (3 loving mothers to three incredible families).
  • There were some very difficult moments that had me taking a long, HARD look at who I thought I was, what I stood for and how other people can affect life in unexpected ways and turn the mirror at you.
  • I got burnt out this month due to the business side of ‘being your own business’ (and I NEVER thought I would hit burn out because I practice and love what I do y’all!).
  • My kids got sick in the last quarter kind of hard.
  • Covid affected a family member (thank God they are fine
  • Feeling so uncertain and lost, afraid and small.

Now, it might not be your case that the challenges brought the most positive growth, but check in with yourself right now(because you are probably thinking about your challenges this year right now. What were your challenges this past year? 

 

What Challenges Can Teach Us

I really appreciated Nick Demos’s invitation to look at the challenges and ask where growth can happen from them moving forward.  If you want, dear reader, write the challenges you experienced and then feel into what positive transformations can come from them.  Might you have more empathy from them?  More clarity on your healthful boundaries?  More courage in your heart?  More assured way to speak from your authentic voice? 

 

What came of your challenges?  What came from them?  Look to both your external and internal worlds. Perhaps no one else can see the change, but you know the immense shifts that have happened inside your heart and Spirit!

 

I am so thankful to each of YOU through this past year!  To say I wouldn’t be hear without you is the truth, so much gratitude on my heart for each of you…I’m also thinking of the term ubuntu.

 

Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù])[1] is a NguniBantu term meaning “humanity”. It is sometimes translated as “I am because we are” (also “I am because you are”),[2] or “humanity towards others” (in Zuluumuntu ngumuntu ngabantu). In Xhosa, the latter term is used, but is often meant in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity” -Wikipedia, ubuntu

 

This is the Truth of my Work

This is the truth of my work. When you heal, we all heal. When I heal, we all heal. We are all one, one Energy, one Love.
I will forever continue to help others heal.  It is my life’s purpose; to support others in feeling their worth, knowing they have a right to be here, that they are loved and are full of possibility.

And I sometimes feel like I am just getting started in all of what I have to offer.  I have been stepping into some new work, as a few of you already know, but not most.  I will be calling upon anyone who might be interested and willing to help me better learn how to help others in the next week, so watch for my follow up email to this one.

 

New Classes from January 2022

Thank you everyone who filled out my survey! It really did help me in making these changes! I will be planning a retreat too(when I see Omicron backing off!

 

 

My new classes and timings for January 2022

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  
Happy New Year!
Many blessings for abundance in health, finances, love, laughter, growth, fun, and peace!

crow pose to help feel complete in the moment  
Practicing Crow Pose in India; helps me feel completely in the moment.

 

 

Deborah Adele writes in her book on the Yoga ethical practices of the Yamas and Niyamas around ishvara pranidhana,

Ishvara pranidhana, The jewel of surrender, presupposes that there is a divine force at work in our lives. Whether we call it God, grace, providence, or life, this force is greater than we are and cares deeply about us. Surrender invites us to be active participants in our life, totally present and fluid with each moment, while appreciating the magnitude and mystery of what we are participating in. Ultimately this guideline invites us to surrender our egos, open our hearts and accept the higher purpose of our being.”

 

How do we do this? How do we surrender and be active participants in life?

I have been discovering this week through embodying this ethical practice, speaking about it, digesting it, and living in it, that it is actually cyclical. Meaning, as we surrender and notice life as it is, while making choices that are in alignment with our heart, this way of being in the world circles us back to all the previous Yamas and Niyamas.

And, in my humble opinion, and from the perspective of only my life thus far at the age of 41, there will always be a waning and waxing of our ability to always be living life inside a space of pure joy, unconditional acceptance and unconditional love. Note: I haven’t reached a continual state of enlightenment yet 🙂

 

Again, Deborah Adele:

The yogis tell us that we can live this way all the time, unless we are getting in our own way

 

I personally feel that it’s not always easy to feel in harmony with life, nor see the beauty in all things. It can be challenging and push us to our edge in order to uphold our own core values and to really trust that in each moment the divine is living, breathing, and supporting us in an unconditionally loving way. 

 

And yet this is what ishvara pranidhana is inviting us to realize; that there is the divine in everything and every experience.

 

Jean-Pierre de Caussade, a French Jesuit priest from centuries ago wrote,

 “There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals His divine action.”

“How do we begin to find this rhythm of surrender or the immense joy and trust (of life) … ?  When we release our rigidity and our need to control, when we joyfully engage life as it comes to us, and when we place our egos into devotion to that which is greater, we can begin to taste the bounty of this jewel, ishvara pranidhana.”  

Deborah Adele

So there it is, the idea that presupposes that you believe in something greater than yourself.

 

What do you believe in?

Perhaps, and most likely because you’re reading this blog, you believe in connection. You believe in and uphold a desire to experience love. Most likely you believe in love itself.

 

Oftentimes, when speaking about love as God, when speaking to the divine and Source, and when contemplating the idea of an entity larger than us, and yet that lives in us, for me it feels very ethereal and abstract. And yet, when I have experiences of pure joy and connection, when I’ve had experiences of heart opening awe, when my children were born, I could not only believe in something so magnificent and so out of this world, but my gratitude in this world deepened!

 

Ishvara pranidhana invites us to transcend the physical world, and to remember that this divine entity lives within everything.

One of my community members brought up a good point when she shared that during hard and difficult moments in life is especially the time when we must connect with our beliefs that give us strength. Those are particular times when we need to use all of our practices to stay connected to that knowledge of the beauty of the divine.

 

And this is why ishvara pranidhana cycled me back to all the other practices… To stay observant of life as it is without attachment, judgment, nor expectation.  To practice things like ahimsa, non-violence, and Satya i.e. truthfulness, and to really be always in a practice of svadyaya i.e. self-study, and many of the other practices that yoga offers us.

 

These practices are as cyclical as breath itself.

And the more I keep her returning, the more I keep inviting myself to be this active participant and to consciously come back to all these teachings, and to come back to the knowledge of my own truth within, and then I do experience how surrender can support me.  I can actually support myself in making more healthful and empowering decisions.

I believe that our intuition is the divine speaking to us from within us. For I am That and That am I. And when I can surrender to That which I am hearing within myself, then I can make those wiser and more skillful decisions moving forward.

“Life knows what to do better than we do. Our task is simply to let go and receive each moment with an open heart, and then dance skillfully with it.” -Deborah Adele

To dance skillfully with life is to surrender to life, see it as it is, listen to my heart and intuition within, and to then see what my role in all things.

 

 

Questions to meditate on…

I had an incredible conversation recently with a dear friend of mine and these are some of the questions that we both held for a while,

 

What is my role in all things?

How will you choose to dance/participate in life?

How will you practice to not be the one thing that gets in your way from living the beautiful life that you’re already living and that you deserve?

The present moment holds infinite riches beyond our wildest dreams

Jean-Pierre de Caussade

What is your experience of the divine at this moment? Because, this moment is divine.

I want to close with this last reading out of Deborah Adele’s book because I keep contemplating it and it keeps supporting me in many various ways. I hope it will support y

Swami Rama used to say “Do what is yours to do; Don’t do what is not yours to do.” How simple these words may sound to our ears, and yet they are profound to our understanding of surrender. As we are able to let go of what we can’t change, we are able to grow more and more into our unique gift and contribution to life itself. There is something that is ours to do, and whether it is larger or small, it is our contribution to the whole of humanity. As we discern where our path lies and then surrender to that awareness, we will begin to taste freedom and joy in a way we never dreamed possible.”

 

And there it is again, the cycle.

 

All my love,

 

Shawna

Breathe and Believe