Breathe and Believe

Spiritual Heart

Anahata Chakra: The “unstruck”.  The heart center wheel of life emanates the sound that two things make when they do not strike each other.   I’ve always loved this idea.  For me, the resonance between two things not striking each other is love and peace.  A vibration of unconditional love and unconditional acceptance. These are all aspects of the Spiritual Heart.  This week has been a deep week of serious inquiry for me and my students in class, and I hope it will spark the beginnings of a life long healthful relationship with your own Heart!

I used to roll my eyes every time a person said, “listen to your heart”, “feel your heart”, or “go within, to your hearts center”.  Yup, I was over it.  I was just tired of hearing about the heart. I didn’t necessarily have heart break, though I have experienced that, but I was just like, “can we move on now?”  Well, years later, I get it.  After studying with various teachers and Spiritual leaders, and after having many a heart-opening experience, I believe it now when Spiritual Healers say, ‘you can never work too much with the heart’.  It is known within the system of the chakras*, that the heart chakra is the only one that when it is in balance, it becomes easier to create balance in all the others. 
*A chakra is a “wheel” or ‘vortex’ of energy and life force that lives within each of us.  Seven main ones stack from the pelvic floor to the crown of the head.  They reside at specific anatomical locations within the human body just in front of the spin, like a plum line.  They correlate to physical aspects of the human body, as well as energetic aspects, developmental aspects within the life span of a person, and emotional and psychological aspects. 

I dove in pretty deep with this intention. Three articles stuck out to me, and it was hard to narrow the Dharma Talk for each class.  However, from a conversation with a dear friend, the intention became clear;  how do you listen to your heart and how do you trust it?  How do you know your truly hearing your heart?  Click here for Article 1 Article 2 Article 3

Here’s where we began in class:
“Our heart deserves the best gift from us; it is asking to be heard and revered.  …Your heart speaks the truth.  It’s as simple and sacred as this.  No one knows your heart better than you do.  …Your heart holds the key to your life.  Your dreams, wishes and desires are all embedded in your heart.  Whom your heart chooses to love, your life’s work and your purpose all reside in your heart.  …Your heart speaks to you with kindness and hope.  It never speaks of fear and doubt, and it will never betray you Your heart honors you, and when you listen to the guidance of your heart, your peace and happiness is restored.” -Mary Paleologos

Mary goes on to write, “Who you really are is not defined by the external world but by your internal sanctuary.”  This supported me in creating a Heart Meditation thru out the week**.  “Deep within you lies the very essence of love, strength and joy.  To trust your inner self is to trust your heart.  It does not mean that you will not make mistakes or make a wrong turn;  this is all part of your heart’s journey.  If you trust and embrace the journey, your heart will get you back on the right path.”  

I have highlighted a few of those words above for the reason that I deeply believe in them. And, I will add, when you listen to your heart you are listening to your inner wisdom!  Don Oscar Miro-Quesada, a Peruvian Shaman whom I retreat with, says, “Everything you need to know is already in your heart.”

“Your Heart Loves You.”
 -Shawna Emerick  We must love our Hearts back, and that is to love One’s Self.  The heart chakra is all about relationships, not only to those around us, but also to our Selves and the Divine.

However, what happens when you do not feel you have ever heard your heart?  What then?  What does it feel like to ‘hear’ your heart?  Even though I don’t have an answer here, one thing thru reading of the articles that made sense to me was this:  What does your heart pull you towards?!  Have you ever, in your life, been SO drawn to something that you knew you had to say yes, or act upon it?!  Or at least, start making smaller actionable steps towards it/that? Has something in your life ever affected you in that way that lights you up?!  Creates a spark?!  That might have been your heart speaking to you, guiding you! 

I feel each person is going to experience their hearts communication in different ways.  And even within one person, I feel that that person can “hear” their heart from different forms.  Sometimes the heart will create tears.  Sometimes we feel our hearts excitement when we experience some thing we witness outside of our self.  Sometimes we are moved by a gorgeous piece of music, a memory, a hope, a dream, a poem, another human being, an event, a word, a feeling, a symbol.  So many things.  How has your heart communicated with you?  Here’s a question; have you ever heard your heart and acted from it?  No matter the outcome from listening to your heart, go back to that moment when you heard it.  How did you know it was your heart?  What did it feel like?  What did you ‘hear’ or experience?

And, then, what if you do feel that it was your heart that misguided you?  As one quote in one of the articles suggests, “your heart will guide you back on the right path”.  But, how do you create the trust towards your heart when you do feel like it was your heart that betrayed you?  Remember that other quote, “Your heart will never betray you”?  Do you believe this?  I believe it.  Even thru heart break, I don’t think my heart betrayed me.  I feel that someone else betrayed me, and another still was following their heart, thouhg it hurt mine.  And that sometimes the journey betrayed me, that which lives outside of me, but not my heart.  Not my Spiritual Heart.  My physical  heart has skipped beats in the past due to stress and anxiety, but my Spiritual Heart beats strong.  Your Spiritual Heart is strong too. I believe this.  I believe in Source, Spirit, God, Light, Life, however you name it/feel it to be.  I believe it because That is You, and You are That.  Just as in Yoga we say I am That, That am I. 

As I was thinking further around the heart, I feel that it would be unfair to expect life to be perfect and all love and positive vibes, as they say, even when we feel we are living from a heart centered space.  Why?  Because inevitably, at some point, we will all experience grief.  Grief is the shadow side of the  heart chakra.  Whether its loss of a loved one, a pet, loss of something we held as special/sacred, loss of our own abilities as we age, or anything else.  And, even in grief and heart ache, there can still be a heart centered practice.  Gratitude.   And gratitude is another practice of the heart chakra.  Right now, take a deep breath, and think of 5 things you are grateful for, and if you want, journal them.  Did you feel your heart expand? Soften?  Or grow?  How did it feel?  Where did you feel it in your body?  Take another deep breath.  Thank yourself for being in this journey of life.  Its not easy, but it doesn’t need to be experienced as a struggle.  Perhaps this is where we will feel the differences in life when we do always make the attempt to live from our Heart’s Center?!  And then everything is perfect.  Not in the “shiny, rainbow, clean and neat” way, but it’s perfect because it is what it is.  And that, is perfect.  To allow One’s Self to experience ALL emotions is heart centered.

I feel there is a lot more here, including why feeling and the second chakra are often correlate to the heart chakra.  Think emotions and desires.  No wonder a lot of yoga workshops are entitled ‘Heart and Hip openers’! 

So, keep listening to your heart. Listen for its desires.  Even if the first practice is to get silent enough so you CAN start to ‘hear’ your heart. Remember, to ‘hear’ it might mean you feel it.  And, even when you feel that your hearts desires are impossible, your heart knows the way.  It will never betray you.  It will guide you and speak to you of hope and possibility.  Unconditional love and unconditional acceptance are made of the heart stuff!  Your heart loves you.  Give your heart the connection it deserves.  Nourish your relationship with your Heart today.

Feel free to write to me about your take on all of this, or part of this.  Tell me a story of when you heard your heart.  Let me know how you trust your heart, or how you learned to trust.  Namaste.

**This helped me create a Hearts Meditation thru out the week.  I want to start making audio recordings!  If anyone wants to come over and help me figure out how to use the Rockrok ML-01 Lavalier Microphone I have, please let me know!  I will figure out an exchange for a private yoga session, or Thai massage, or DoTerra essential oils for you!

Strength

Last week we explored drishti, focus, and where we wish to keep our focus towards within the scope of our life.  We were reminded by Ralph Marston to “choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting, and joyful.”  Read the blog HERE.

As we attempt to hold our focus towards the magnificent, we will experience a lot on the journey of life.  Some things are going to test us, push us, change us, move us, and all of it will mold us, just as much as we are a sculpture.  So, when we are feeling challenged, stuck, angered, sad, scared, hopeless, or uncertain, can we trust the process of life?  Can we trust that we ARE going to come out of dark times on the other side, changed for the better?  Can we hang on?  Can we support ourselves to have the staying power to see it/make it thru?

There is an observance, a niyama, in yoga that is known as tapas.  Tapas, as translated from Sanskrit, is ‘heat’.  It also is translated as self-discipline, Spiritual effort, austerities, change, and transformation.  Deborah Adele, in her book ‘The Yamas & Niyamas’, asks the questions, “Can you show courage and stay in the fire until you find the blessing?”  “Can we stay in the burning with integrity?”  “Can we hold on for the blessing?”  “Can we prepare ourselves daily through our practice, our staying power, and our choices?”

I love her questions, and yet, as the week passed on, I realized something.  Tapas, self-discipline, does not need to be felt as so daunting, rigid, and suffocating.  It does not mean to beat yourself down to a pulp, with nothing left.  This observance of tapas, for us to try to always be in a practice of Spiritual effort and ‘heat’, can be performed with grace, compassion, and Light.  Deborah Adele puts it this way, that tapas is “paying attention to what is possible, what is safe, and what is timely for us in our current life context.”  For example, I cannot go up into the Himalayan mountains to meditate for years right now.  I have two children, a husband, and a dog at home who depend on me.  Even though the meditation would be great Spiritual effort, its not timely for me right now; what is timely is how I raise my kids, how I support my partner, and how I am living out my practices right now.

“Tapas is the willingness to be both burned and blessed.” -Deborah Adele

So, can we trust the process?  Can we allow the unfolding?  Can we remember the alchemy of transformation, of tapas?  Can we trust that we will come out on the other side of dark times as better?  Better in the way of knowledgeable, changed, opened, and sometimes even happier.

In her article “Tapas: Find Your Inner Phoenix”, read HERE, Hellen Avery writes, “…we must practice what Krishna calls in the Bhagavad Gita, pure tapas – a tapas of “zeal” and “sincerity.”  And to do so we have to become deeply intimate with the true desire in our hearts.”  She continues, “The beauty of pure tapas is that when we make a choice that aligns with this fire inside, we fan the flames, so that the fire burns brighter, and the next time the choice becomes easier.  We don’t have to wait thousands of years like the phoenix to commit ourselves to the flames.  We can emerge more brilliant with every choice we make to follow the path to truth.”

When I read this a few things stand out.  One, we MUST listen to our hearts! And, two, I have made choices that used to feel ‘hard’ but are now easy because I choose from a place of the heart.  One of the hardest decisions in my life was a decision made from my heart. And, though, for a time, it caused my best friend to despise me, it was the loving choice to make at the time.  We both stayed in the burning for months after our separation. But, I CAN tell you, we made it thru, we are closer friends because of it, and we live in that blessing.  That was a choice that Deborah Adele’s quote  fits…it was a choice that “was timely for us in our current life context.”

You can DEFINITELY believe this weeks classes will be ALL about listening and TRUSTING your HEART!  Namaste.

Focus

If you’re not looking fear in the eye, then what are you focusing on?  Last week was all about looking fear in the eye, and getting familiar with it.  Click HERE to read. 

“Your destiny is to fulfill those things upon which you focus most intently.  So choose to keep your focus on that which is truly magnificent, beautiful, uplifting, and joyful.  Your life is always moving toward something.” -Ralph Marston

So, where do you want your focus to be? 
In Yoga we talk about the eyes focus as being called dristhi.  However, drishti has a much broader definition than just where we focus our eye balls in any given posture.  Drishti means “view” and “focused gaze”.  This is attributed to where we set our concentration towards in our life.

How do you keep your focus towards your purpose and the things that fill your well?   Because, I am assuming that you want to be reaching for your dreams, moving towards your goals, and nourishing and feeding the things you love to do, while making a difference in the world, even at the smallest day-to-day level.  So, how do you keep your focus?  More on that in a minute.

Drishti is related to pratyahara and dharana, sense withdrawal and concentration, respectively. These things lead to meditation, dhyana, and then absorption, samadhi.

I love drishti’s association with pratyahara particularly because of the scope of what it offers my mind.  When you’re not looking at fear, for example, and giving it your focus, than your awareness needs to be focusing on that which is uplifting, as our opening quotes explains.  Sense withdrawal is not just ‘turning off’ the senses, it means that when you focus to one thing, inevitably your focus is NOT somewhere else!  So keep your focus towards your purpose, and even just discovering more what your purpose is, and let your purpose come from your loves and your talents and your passions!

Here are some suggestions in ways to keep your focus:
-Pause.  Remember the “sacred pause, ” as I call it.  that moment where you connect to Source within your Self.  
-Take a breath.  A deep breath.  
-Remember.  Remember your “why”!  Why do you do what you do?
-Remember.  Remember a Peak Experience of Joy in your life!  I came to realize thru this intention of dristhi, that sometimes what keeps me focused towards my goals and dreams is thru remembering an amazing experience from the past that is related to my future. 
-Prayer.
-Mindset.  Read that blog HERE.
-A support system.  Who are the people in your life that you can turn to in order to reflect back your Light to your Self?!
-Having a teacher, mentor, guru, or coach to support you to keep the focus.
-Your practice! 
-And of course, remembering yourself as you are, as the bearer of Light.  This is to say to remember yourself as the Divine, or however you call it or feel it to be. Enabling your consciousness to remember that your consciousness is God consciousness.

Until next time, stay focused! Namaste.

Fear

“What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear, looking it right in the eye – not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking.  The truth is that when we really begin to do this, we’re going to be continually humbled.” -Pema Chodron

What are you afraid of?  Have you given this thought lately in your life, or is it a place that you try to avoid because looking at your fears causes more fear?  Perhaps the first step in becoming more familiar with fear is to acknowledge fear when it comes up, or to acknowledge the fears you might already have.

I didn’t realize I have so many fears.  This week has been very humbling for me.  Who knew fear could be so humbling, as Pema Chodron states.  And, I’m talking about the feeling of humbled in terms of it causing One to see life as awe inspiring and incredible, miraculous because you are in it; and not in the way that humble might be experienced as causing a feeling of being less than, or small, not worthy.  *Side note: The definition of the verb ‘to be humbled’ is, according to the internet, “lower in dignity or importance.”  But, this is what I am talking to…the fact that you ARE important, but that you are also not the only one who has fears. Perhaps this definition of humble will help, “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.”  Getting the ego out, and letting life in, even fear.

That pose up there, that one you see me in, some of you have seen it before on Instagram and Facebook.  I made a post about it. It’s the pose that inspired a moment in this past Saturdays class that lead to this little story:

 

“I cried in front of my “students” this morning. And that is exactly why I teach. Not to cry, necessarily, but to share. They are my friends, not just students. We share in this practice together, on and off the mat. Don’t worry, I will still guide and support in safety, and impart the knowledge I have learned, but the bigger idea is that we are living life together!

 

They were practicing this pose you see me in with Quinn, parivrtta hasta padangusthasana, revolving head-to-big-toe pose. We were on the second side. Some people stumbled, and I saw that cause others to loose their balance as well.

And then, it hit me as I witnessed this happening….

 

“Perhaps fear is the distraction that’s keeping us from our purpose!”

 

(Just as a neighbor stumbling in the pose might distract us, and then we fall off our balance.]

 

As I spoke those words and realized them, a HUGE welling up inside of my body came because that is exactly the place I am living in my life right now. It’s only my own fears holding me back from acting in bigger ways towards my purpose.

So, yes, the welling up was so strong, the realization hit so impact-fully, and quickly, that inevitably a release happened. And I’m glad it did. I am happy I cried in front of everyone for a moment. Because in that moment it was ALL LOVE! We were all one! Even those sweet people who were new to my teaching style. 😜 We go deep, and we try not to be afraid.”


At face value, what you read here might not seem so “big”.  I’m sure you’ve heard, “don’t let your fear stop you”, or some sort of form of that thought. However, when your in the practice of yoga with others, and when the energy in the room is connected, and something you’ve heard before comes up in a different way, and actually lands for the first time… It’s powerful.  It is Source itself working thru us all.   It is community, it is witnessing, it is sharing, and it IS humbling.  Humbling for me because I was so inspired by my students practices. Humbling because their practicing is what brought about transformation. Humbling because it speaks to EXACTLY where I am in my own life right now!  Maybe you too?!

And for fear to be seen as a distraction makes it begin to feel annoying. Why not leave the fear out, and get on with living your best life!?

I think that’s what Gandhi was getting at when he said, “Live life as if you were going to die tomorrow, learn as if you will live forever.”.  Maybe he is saying, do more of what you love! Thanks, Emily for our chat after class! 😉  Otherwise, we would be on the next flight to Bali! LOL! 

Create the “complete undoing”!  I love this!  Of course I do, read this post around mind set:  http://shawnashakti.com/its-all-in-your-head-or-is-it/ .  I could add to that list of ways to change your mindset, the act of becoming familiar with fear.   And, with this undoing of old ways of thinking, seeing, smelling, tasting, and hearing, let there not be sadness over your perception of wasted time being stuck in life because of fear.  Re-frame that mindset to being grateful for all the events and choices that have brought you to this moment.  And, from here forward, a new way of being is alive in you.  There was not a problem to be solved, nothing needed to be fixed, it was just looking fear in the eye , getting familiar with it, even befriending it, and the undoing happens.  Namaste.

A Moment of Grace

If you haven’t read ‘Rabbits in Your Garden?’, go back, and read it here: http://shawnashakti.com/rabbits-in-your-garden/

This way you will understand the start of this blog.

 

Did you consider what your “Rabbit, or Rabbits” are?  I did.  I have a couple of theme nibbling at my roots to the garden of my heart.  As I looked, something happened.  I started to wonder about others.  As I was becoming curious about other Beings pain and suffering, it made me also more present to my own.  This created a moment of grace.  That age old saying hit me again, “we are all one”.  We are more alike than we think.

 

From that moment of grace, deep gratitude poured in.  The knowledge that we are not alone in our separate lives began to soften me.  It didn’t rid the rabbits from the garden, but there definitely not nibbling right now, and they see the way out.  This gratitude soften my anxiety and worries.

 

And so, I want this invitation of practice to be simple; practice gratitude for your life today.  Parker Palmer writes, “The Spiritual life is about becoming more at home in your own skin.”  He isn’t talking just about your physical form, he also means your life.  He goes on to suggest, says Mark Nepo, “that the aim of all spiritual paths, no matter their origin or the rigors of their practice, is to help us live more fully in the lives we are given.  In this way, whatever comes from a moment’s grace that joins us to our lives and to each other – this is spiritual.”  

 

So, isn’t it fitting then, that Mark Nepo states, “anything that removes what grows between our hearts and the day is spiritual.”  For me, its my babies smiles, my four year old’s laugh, holding my husbands hand, and even catching a smile from a stranger as we pass on the sidewalk.

 

And, yet, I didn’t feel complete with these ideas.  It’s hard to express for me.  I was wondering HOW am I going to invite people in this weeks yoga classes, now last weeks classes, to practice just being grateful for their life?  And, to let it be that simple; not needing to go into your life stories or dreams, but just their life, period.  And, to feel that gratitude in awe within their hearts?  Then, I found it again in Mark Nepo’s book…

 

“Prayer is not asking.  It is a longing of the soul.  It is daily admission of one’s weaknesses…And so, it is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”-Gandhi

 

Mark Neop expands:  “This great spiritual teacher reminds us that prayer of the deepest kind is more a pledge of gratitude for what has already been received than a request or plea for something not yet experienced.  Such an effort refreshes the soul.

  Implicit in Gandhi’s instruction is the need to surrender to our lives here on Earth.  By admitting our weaknesses, we lay down all the masks we show the world and as we do so, what is holy floods in.”

 

As the seasons change here in New York, and more darkness fills the days, let’s be proactive in our practices to support the light in staying present within ourselves.  Like a UV lamp for the soul, practice gratitude!   Let the light pour in! Namaste.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”-Marcel Proust

Mark Nepo expands on this in his book “The Book of Awakening,” by writing about John Travolta’s character in the movie Phenomenon.  John’s character has been trying to keep a rabbit out of his garden because everything seems to always be getting nibbled to nothing.  However, one day he realizes he has been going about this all wrong.  That evening he decides to leave the gate to his garden OPEN, and sits to wait.  Just as he is falling asleep the rabbit scurries out!  Travolta’s character finds he has been trapping the rabbit inside the garden, when he really wanted him out. 

Mark Nepo goes on invite us to inquire within ourselves, the important work and question:

“How often do we barricade and fence up our lives against hurt and loss, thinking we’re keeping the painful things out, when they’re already trapped inside us eating at our roots, and what we really need to do is to open the gate and let them out?”

I love his invited meditation:
“Center yourself, and consider what you are currently trying to keep out of your heart.  It might be a fear of what’s to be, or a memory of what has been, or the truth of a situation you are living right now.
Close your eyes and open the gate to your heart and wait. Breathe and wait.
Breathe slowly and give the rabbit a chance to leave your garden.”

If you feel called to share with me what is leaving your heart, I am here.  Or, perhaps, you know what you wish would leave the garden of your heart, but haven’t been able to get rid of it…breathe and wait; for the only action you are required to do here is open your heart.  Some say that this is the hardest task of all…to leave your heart open! 

And, as I had discovered last week thru using this in my yoga classes, when the gate to the garden of your heart is open, you are also allowing your heart to be able to receive what you need.  Ask boldly and openly for what you need.  The Universe only has the BEST intentions for your life.  Take seeds and plant them! Watch your Self blossom.  Namaste.

Above is the picture depicting the Manipura Chakra, which is the energetic vortex, or wheel(chakra), for actions, courage, will power, and autonomy.  It lives physically at the area of our solar plexus, above the navel.  Its name means ‘lustrous gem’.  Its all about our vitality.  Courage to take action can come from here.  It’s why I chose this picture for this subject matter on decision making.

As last week we were focused on surrender in our practices, especially in the letting go purpose of surrender, I began to get curious around when we should act?!  How does One make decisions?  From what place do we make decisions?  If, in surrendering our egos, as Emma-Louise Newlyn goes on to write, “is very closely related to the concept of letting go of the fruits of our actions and non-attachment…the practice of surrendering requires us to acknowledge that we can do our very best in each situation but we can’t really do any more than that; realizing this essentially allows us to fully engage and be present in what we are doing, bringing all our energy to that moment and experiencing it fully as it is-what happens after, happens after.”

So, then, how can we make sure we ARE ‘doing our very best’ in each moment and continually working towards being our very best?  For me, this seemed tied to how we make choices, how we make decisions.  From those choices that we make daily, like what to eat for breakfast, to those big hitting choices of whether we should move out of state, for example, or leave a relationship, or stay at a job.  So, I did a little research into how people make decisions.  Let me tell you!  There is A LOT of information out there!  There are books on how to make better decisions too!  So, I am going to give you a few places from which decisions can be made, but then I am going to tell you the common denominator that was threaded thru them all.

The first thing that came to me around decisions was the time I needed to decide to move from an apartment I was renting. It wasn’t a questions of if I needed to move, it was a question of where to?  I had an apartment I found that I loved, but the roommates in it were giving mixed signals.  I wanted to be there.  It was my father who said, “do you want to force the decision, or let God show you the way?”  I decided from a place of letting Universe carry me, a place of surrender, haha.  And, I am glad I DID!  I found a better home that had an amazing woman in it, who would go on to be one of my bridesmaids in my wedding, and I at her wedding!

Another place to make decisions from is, of course, your heart!  A dear teacher of mine would always say, and I am paraphrasing, “Perhaps the questions is not what is the right choice, but what is the loving choice”.  I LOVE this.  Sometimes we know our choices that we are making are not going to be liked by others.  For me, that is hard because I want everyone to like me(it ain’t gonna happen, let it go).  However, one of the hardest decisions in my life came from a place of heart, even though it did hurt someone;  it came from a place of love for me, and love for them.  “What happens after, happens after.”  Stay present, breathe, and know you’re doing your very best in this moment.

Sometimes we have no idea what to do.  Maybe you’re living in the mystery right now, and don’t know which way to turn.  Perhaps you see a path you wish to take, but don’t know the first step to create the movement forward.  Pause here, one of those Sacred Pauses, where you listen to intuition.  Feel what your gut is telling you, knock on your hearts door, and observe any messages from Source/Universe/God/Energy/Life. 

Here are two more little quotes I heard on this subject of making decisions.  I heard them from listening to others, so I do not know the original authors of the actual words:

“Know history, know self.”(My husband told me this one.)
And,
“People don’t decide their futures, they decide their habits, and their habits decide their futures.”(From Australian researchers on the topic of creating habits.)

Now, in order to know our history, we have to take a moment to look back and observe.  And, in order to know our habits we must become aware of what we are doing.  Ah ha, yup, are you guessing the common denominator yet?  In order to hear our hearts, what must we do?  In order to read our intuition, what must we do?

We must bring our consciousness into the present moment and observe!  That’s the common denominator I discovered.  Do you agree?  Let me know.

Oh, and if you want to, Google ‘choice theory’.  Just another thing I came across. 

Your mission, should you choose(lol!) to accept it, is to try to stay present enough to always be doing your very best this week.  What happens after, happens after. Namaste!

Have you ever had a time in your life when you couldn’t catch your breath? You felt like your ‘head was under water’, or at best, you were ‘treading’? That’s how I felt recently. I did a minute of journaling and began to feel that my intention was to just “try to stay open”. Open to what I was going thru, how I was feeling, and to what was. In essence, surrender.

 

In Yoga, surrender can be named Isvara Pranidhana. It is known as the last of the Niyamas, or observances, within Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, or the threads of wisdom as offered by the Sage, Patanjali. Isvara translates as ‘Supreme Being’, ‘God’, ‘Brahman’, or ‘True Self’. Pranidhana translates as ‘to dedicate’, ‘devote’, or ‘surrender’.

 

In order to even begin to surrender, we must acknowledge what we are holding onto that no longer serves us. For me, in my suffocating moment recently, I knew I had to let go of the desire for control and change. My children were sick, at the same time, and I wanted to heal them, I wanted to get back on track with my training I am taking, write my blogs, and life in general! This is ego. The ego will hold on to anything in order to give us a false sense of control. But…

 

“Surrendering to what is requires trust in our deepest Self, our intuition and the courage to express ourselves for who we are, as we are, with all of our perfect imperfections, which ultimately leads to freedom.” -Emma-Louise Newlyn

 

So, here’s an invitation. The next time you practice the physical poses of yoga, the asanas, or the next time you move your body, can you practice surrender in these two ways?:

 

1.) Physical Surrender. Really let go, ly down, do nothing. Breathe. Close your eyes. Make your body comfortable so you can really try to let go of your thoughts. Empty out. Exhale a little longer than your inhales. And remember how surrender does not mean “giving up”, but rather a release, a letting go, which might be the most difficult part of the practice, but which might also open you to clarity and a spaciousness that allows you to just be.

 

2.) When you meet some tension, whether physical or otherwise, can you breathe into it? Of course be compassionate, don’t hurt yourself, but can you relax into the physical sensations without leaving hurriedly? Can you move towards the discomfort or difficulty? To this, Emma-Louise writes, “Yes, Yoga makes us feel good. It heals us when we’re hurt, and it helps us find light when all we see is dark, but it also shows us what we’re made of when things get tough.”

 

Tell me how you have surrendered recently. What does surrender evoke within you? How did surrendering effect your situation/life?

 

For me, my kids are healing slowly, I took actions necessary to support that, but ultimately, I am still having to wait it out. It was a little virus, and now something else. I let go of my need for control to try and stop time so that I wouldn’t be so “far behind” in my training. I am rolling with life, and I do feel a sense of ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. I even vacuumed and wrote this blog 😉

 

Namaste.

Shawna Emerick

“Do you already know that your existence-who and how you are- is in and of itself a contribution to the people and place around you?  Not after or because you do some particular thing, but simply the miracle of your life?”  Breathe that in for a few minutes. Let in marinade your bones, your flesh.  Let it steep your heart.

 

I love those words from Adrienne Maree Brown.  They get at something that I am intent on building with more intention in the coming weeks, months, and years:  Community.

 

She goes on to write, “And the people around you, and the place/place, have contributions as well?  Do you understand that your quality of life and your survival are tied to how authentic and generous the connections are between you and the people and place you live with and in?  Are you actively practicing generosity and vulnerability in order to make the connections between you and others clear, open, available, durable?  Generosity here means giving of what you have without strings or expectations attached.  Vulnerability means showing your needs.”

 

I hope to see you soon, on the mat, off the mat, in the neighborhood, or virtually.  Lets keep building community,be vulnerable,  be generous, and remembering that we are each enough in who we are.  Namaste.

SwadhisthanaChakraImage

Recently I took what my mind was seeing as a pretty substantial “risk”. The risk I took held a lot of fear inside. It was that fear of not having enough, for the risk I took was one where I was moving away from something that was bringing financial abundance. However, I knew I was not the best fit for this space any longer.

 

In contemplating the entire situation, and trying to see it from new mindsets, as we have been exploring in my yoga classes for the past two weeks, my thoughts just kept circling.

 

So, I asked my partner one morning while rounding up the kids to go outside, “what word, or words, come up when you hear ‘risk’, ‘decision’, ‘change’?” And he said, “GROWTH”!!

 

THAT ONE WORD CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR ME IN THAT MOMENT!

 

And, I realized I had found another way to change my mindset! Ask someone else about your situation! Haha!

 

Growth. Yes, exactly it! And then I found these quotes:

 

“Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed, and rearranged to relocate us to the place we are meant to be.” -Soul Speaking quote online. And if I might add, whether this change comes from our own actions, or from circumstances out of our control.

 

“Open your mind to the possibilities that may be hiding behind the inconvenience of change.”-Elyse Robinson. And if I could expand on this one, to gaze into what possibilities might be hiding behind perceived risks of change, for ultimately we don’t know what will come to be; this is the mystery.

 

“Change is sometimes needed to better yourself, love yourself, and truly be happy. Never stop working on the best you can be. It is a life long endeavor.”-Anonymous

 

So, I leave you with the last quote from Karen Raun.
“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.”

 

*The picture above is the second chakra of Svadisthana. Its color, bij mantra of Vam, but pronounce it “vum”, and number of lotus pedals it contains are depicted. The second wheel of Life force(chakra) that lives within you is located at your lower abdomen and sacrum, symbolized by water. It is locomotion, change, movement, sensuality, sexuality, sweetness, desires, passions, emotions, and more! Change to Grow! Meditate on it, chant the mantra, circle your hips, do some hip openers, wear orange, and feel the changes.