Wednesday, August 27, 2014

INVITATION - A September to Remember!

Yogis,

This week we have been talking about Samskaras……patterns…..habits.  Some wonderful and supportive, and some keeping us from the highest experience of Who We Really Are. 

So how can we begin to step out of some of these deeply grooved paths we walk……….

I mentioned that my intention for fall was to let each day be exactly what it is, and I am hoping you will join me!  As we start this seasonal transition, I invite you to join me in:

 “A September to Remember!”
 
30 days of noticing
30 days of awakening our senses
30 days of shifting from the thinking mind to the feeling mind

What is it:  You will receive daily emails for the month of September with simple ways to awaken the senses
When:  Beginning August 31 there will be an email each evening with the plan for the following day
Time Commitment:  Done during your daily activities
What is required:  A small journal/notebook for jotting done observations at the end of the day
How do I sign up:  Send me an email and let me know what email address you would like me to use! 


Just as with the “Month of Meditations” that we have all done, this will create a new community where we all shift together.  Join us!

Stepping off the path,
SARAH

Sunday, August 24, 2014

playing a new song

Dear Yogis,
As we each travel through our own journey of life, we create well-worn paths.  Ways of doing things, seeing things, thinking of things.  Habits.   In Hinduism they are referred to as Samskara. 

They are formed each time we have an experience.  Based on how we felt, what happened and how it ended, we leave with an imprint on our subconscious that  arises each time we are faced with the same experience.  And the more times we tread that same path, the deeper the grooves and the harder to change or re-route them.   They become somewhat of a lens through which we see the world. 

For those of you old enough to have grown up playing record albums, you understand grooves quite well.  To play a song you had to place the needle directly in the groove……..and every time you did, the same song played exactly the same way.  No variation.  No change in tempo.  Even the sound of the scratches on the album gave that little static sound at the same note of the song each time, almost becoming part of the song itself. 

 

They were dependable.  You knew what you were going to get……………….Life is no different.  When we stay within those established grooves we know what we are going to get.  But is it what we want?

Our Samskaras can be positive.  Feeling a spark of inner joy when we give something without expecting anything in return can cause us to want to continue giving.  The amazement of eating a freshly picked zucchini straight from the backyard makes us want to garden more.   But they can also be negative, such as pushing away anyone who gets too close because of a hurt once felt.  Or the over the top angry reaction we have to someone cutting us off in traffic or cutting in line based on a preconceived notion of how things should be.  The intolerance  of those who don’t agree with our views.   Or at the very least they can be holding us back.

It is said that Samskaras are often cemented in place in order to avoid future suffering.   But do they then also hold us back from potential joy?

They come in many flavors.  The ones above are in our emotions.  In the body they may show up as stiff necks from always sleeping on the same side, shoulder issues from throwing that ball the exact same way over and over, or  tight hamstrings from long distance running.  In our minds they can be like that large scratch in the record that causes it to skip- those deeply ingrained beliefs or thoughts that play in a never ending song.

For each one it comes down to one thing.   Is it in line with the “highest idea of Who You Really Are?” .  In the book trilogy “Conversations with God” everything sifts down through the many layers to this one simple concept.   Our souls yearn for the highest expression of ourselves.  So if what we are doing supports and grows the soul….then Yes!  But if not….it is time to take a turn off the beaten track. 

Staying in the groove is so easy.  It is already laid out and greased.  So how do we begin to turn this large ship?

This is what yoga is all about……..

For the last two Septembers I have led “Back to School September Meditation.”    This year I have a new idea.  Watch for an invitation later this week for “A September to Remember.”  I hope many of you will join me in stepping out of the groove for 30 days.

Details to follow………………..

Closing my eyes and feeling the highest experience of Who I Really Am,
SARAH

Sunday, August 17, 2014

transitioning to here

Yogis,

I have come to realize that I never know what date it is anymore.  When I have to write a check or plan for something in the future I have to really stop and think, calculate it out, or look to the bottom of my computer screen.  I have even had occasion where I am not sure what month it is……

No, I don’t think I need to get checked out.  I believe I have just slowly come to a place where I am more in tune with what is happening here vs the fame work we have created to mark time.

I mark my days now, not by their given names but by the activities.  Instead of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…..it has become KM, double classes, CSA delivery, house cleaners and then of course, yerba mate/yoga/dinner/dance/bath.   Each one has a certain energy.  A rhythm.   No hurry to get from one to another.

My remaining hurdle is to do the same thing with the seasons…….

I know its early, but my mind is already wandering toward fall.  Probably because of the unusually cool nights we have had this week.  Waking up and needing a long sleeve shirt in my office since the windows have been wide open all night.  The garden damp each morning from the heavy dew.  Cold on my feet.   The goldenrod about to bloom. 

My son is heading back to college.  School supplies line the shelves.  And its only one more week until we see the first yellow buses in the neighborhood.  The signs are all there.

Transitions……..the tricky part.

Although fall is beautiful, I always saw it as a long tunnel to winter.  A transition.  Not letting it be what it is, but seeing it merely as a gateway to what comes next.  Each day getting shorter.  Each day getting cooler.  A transition. 

For others, spring – which is another transition – can be challenging.  Clearly not winter, but too wet and cool to be summer.   Sometimes not seeming to move quickly enough as we get that late snow shower. 

We tend to be ok when we are “here”.  And ok again once we have settled in “there”.  It is that getting from here to there that can test us.  Something ends while something new begins. 

Transitions come in many ways.  The travel day required to get to your vacation destination.  Those first few early mornings of school when the kids bodies have become accustomed to sleep at that time of day.  The first month at a new job.   Sunday night, preparing for Monday morning.  I even noticed a transition when I  arrived at our beach house yesterday after having renters here since Memorial Day…….a dedicated hour to re-Sarah-ing the house before I could settle in. 

During transitions, our instinct is to hurry them.  To get to wherever it is we “want” to be.  But it dawned on me today.  In transition, the discomfort forces us to be present.  We may be struggling against it, but our senses are there and involved.  A wonderful chance to watch and learn.  To surrender.

So as fall approaches my intention is to be more attune to what it has to offer. Each day.   Its energy.  Its rhythm.  Not looking ahead and not looking back.    What is it for you?  Mondays?  When the alarm goes off in the morning?  Your commute?  Arriving home from work to hungry children who want your attention?  Notice.  Approach them as a teacher.  See what gift each one has to offer.

Transitions.  Being present.

I am going to be ready!
This moment is perfect,
SARAH

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I love this word

Dear Yogis,

No Monday morning class!  All other classes on regular schedule.

Words are powerful.  Each one holding its own distinct energy.  Able to make us laugh, cry, burst with pride or able to wound us to our core.   Words can spur us into action or stop us dead in our tracks.  To me if feels like each word has a personality.  So I love to find new ones!

In our meditation group we are currently reading and discussing “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki, a Zen master.  Now a 45 year old book, it is still one of the best known and most read books on Zen.  Each chapter is taken from one of his talks and contains a teaching.  This month we read and discussed a chapter titled – Constancy. 

Constancy.  I love this word.  And the more times I repeat it to myself, the more I resonate with its vibration. 
 
Constancy.  A way to live.  A way to be.  A  path to being with each moment exactly as it is. 

Suzuki tells how he always said that you had to have patience to learn and understand Buddhism, but that he was searching for a better word.  Constancy is what came to him.  The word patience implies that there is something on the other side that isn’t quite right. That somehow you are “putting up” with it, or hanging in there until it changes or goes away, or until you “get there”.   But constancy is purely internal and not dependent on the outer world.  It is.....well, constant.

Discipline, which could also be used in place of patience, feels to me like a lot of effort. Too harsh.  Consistency, another option, feels too vanilla.  Bland.  Superficial.  Others….perseverance, diligence, persistence, tenacity…..none of them feel quite as full, as deep or as substantial as – constancy.

Constancy implies that whatever it is that you are guided to do in your life should simply just continue to be done.  Through the ups, downs, twists and turns.  Doing them when they are easy and when they seem hard.  Not forced…….Not “I have to” or “I know I should”…..but done with simplicity and contentment.  They just feel right. Always.

Constancy is especially useful on the spiritual path which can be like a roller coaster…… and this week the word helped me on my ride.  At times I feel connected, vibrant, alive, clear and moving forward.  Like nothing can stop me.   Then, just like that……..BOOM.  Suddenly separate, unclear, unsure of myself and of which way to go.  And it’s amazing how quickly the mind begins to tell stories.  Causing doubts.  Questioning everything.  But then I remembered the word.  I could feel it begin its rhythm in my center.

Constancy.  Movement without attachment to outcome.

Letting go.  Surrendering to what is here right now.  Not being “patient” until this too shall pass, but instead choosing constancy.  Continuing to do my daily meditation and yoga practice, drink my teas, sit in the garden, write and watch my breath.  Doing it all because it is what I am guided to do.  Doing it all because it is who I am.  Being right here.  

Constancy……an inner current.  Riding with it through all of the twists and turns that life offers.  None of them inherently good or bad – they just are.  And I just am.  I like that.

My very first Passionflower bloomed this week!

ps.. I waited to look up the definition until I had finished this writing.  I just did and constancy is defined as “enduring and unchanging”.  I love it even more now!

This moment is exactly as it is supposed to be,

SARAH

Sunday, August 3, 2014

.....just like the refrigerator

Yogis,

Breathing in……breathing out……breathing in …….breathing out.  Right here.  Right now.  Noticing everything about this moment.  Dropping out of my thinking mind and sinking my awareness into the feeling mind of the body.  Taking life in through every pore in the skin. 

Aaaaahhhhh…………………….                                                       

Something occurred to me the other day.  When you think back to moments in time that stand out vividly, you will notice that they aren’t the ones where you were deep in thought, or worry or reminiscing on the past.  The moments that stay with us are the ones that involved the senses.  Feelings.

That moment in time in your dorm room that feels like yesterday whenever you hear that particular song.  You can see what you were wearing and who you were with.  Or that time you fell when you were 10 years old and skinned your knees.  That first slow dance.   The moments that triggered fear, unconditional love, shock or uncontrollable laughter.  Those moments were we were fully in our bodies and time seemed to stop for a split second.  Those were all moments of pure presence. 

So then I began to ponder how to be available for even more of them.  And what came to mind was the word empty……..

Which led me to think of the refrigerator.
 
When the refrigerator gets full it becomes less available.  We tend to only notice and grab those things right in the front.  Too much work to take everything out to get to the back.  And we just keep sticking more and more in there without much thought.   By the end of the summer I probably have 6 half full mustards from vacations.  And those left overs that I stuck in the back are discovered weeks later covered with mold.  Or that sauce that I swear I will use some day (whenever that is).

I compare that then to the refrigerator at the house on  our vacation.  When we arrive it is completely empty!  Bright, clean and just waiting to be filled with whatever we choose to buy for our week.  We mindfully shop filling it only with what we need and desire for the week.  And the following weekend…….we clean it out completely.  Leaving it totally empty to be refilled once again.  Every week all summer over and over and over, with new food, new tastes, new ways of eating. 

Nothing can remain.  Nothing can get “stuck”.  Nothing gets old. 

When we, like the beach refrigerator, learn to empty we too become more available.  More able to soak in everything life has to offer.  More able to be filled.........and no mold

Here is a snapshot of some of the moments in my week…………..how were yours?


Using my exhales to empty,
SARAH

Sunday, July 27, 2014

the gift of this moment

Dear Yogis,

I’m back!  Sun kissed and ready for a regular schedule of classes this week!

The yogic path is one of learning to live in the moment.  The ability to be right here…..right now.   It’s what we are asked to do in yoga classes.  We are told it is what we should be doing in meditation.  I know I give the queue consistently in classes.  In a way it is almost becoming one of the new buzzwords.  “Being present”. 

But what does it really mean.   And how do we do it?????  ………..and do I even want to?

 Let’s do a little exercise to get a sense.

Take a pause from reading now and tune in to this moment.  See how many things you can notice in the next 30 seconds and note them or jot them down on a piece of paper.

Here is mine as I sit in the grass pod in the middle of my garden:
·         Cicadas are humming and two squirrels are in the trees watching me.  One black and one gray. 
·         There is an odd smell that I will have to investigate
·         The air is very damp and heavy and the sky is now cloud filled
·         Three chickadees landed on the eucalyptus tree, as well as mommy cardinal
·         The garden is blooming in shades of orange, purple, yellow and pink
·         The woods are calling me
·         I am tired from traveling
·         Someone ate most of my chard while I was gone
·         Uh oh…..it is now raining on me (and my computer)

So much in such a short time!  And all things that would have just passed me by if I was instead thinking about how I should go back inside and unpack my suitcase, return emails, figure out what we are having for dinner, blah, blah, blah…..

When we consciously choose to be in this moment our awareness shifts downward – from the thinking mind down into the feeling mind – which is throughout our body.  See how many of your senses were involved in what you had in your list.   All 5 senses sharpen when we land in the present which automatically slows our thoughts.   And just the opposite – when we have busy mind, our senses dull.   Days become a blur.  We can become comfortably numb.

Test that.  Try to listen for the most distant sounds.  Or rub your hand on an object to see what it feels like.  Notice how difficult it is to do those things and be thinking about the past or future at the same time.    Then switch to thinking about what you have to do tomorrow, and notice how everything else fades quickly into the background.

One of the simplest anchors we have to connect us to this moment is our breath.  By simply watching and feeling the next five breaths, you will arrive right here.  Right now.  In this moment.  And only when we are here do we see, hear, feel, smell and taste things clearly……as they are.  The richness of life.

It is a practice.  Our minds would rather be replaying the past or planning and worrying about the future so you have to choose to be here.  Yoga is one path.  Meditation.  Sitting quietly in nature.  Setting an alarm for several times a day to remind you to watch your breath.  Slowing down when you walk.   Having a 10 minute “do nothing” built into each day.  Or just doing the exercise we did above with a journal each day. 

So why do I want to do this?

The only moment that is real is this one.  The past no longer exists and the future is a clean unscripted slate which will fill with each new present moment.  Right now is where all of the action is.  This moment is full, complete, juicy, vibrant and perfect.  It is patient and will wait for you to notice her.  But don’t wait too long.  Like a snowflake, every moment is unique……so you don’t want to miss even one.

And best of all......it's free!



·         A warm gentle breeze on my skin – feels like a hug
·         Can hear that the baby wrens are still in the birdhouse
·         The sun is once again shining!

The more aware you become, the more you will experience.  I for one want to feel it all.

A large hawk just soared past me.   So glad I was “here” to experience it,
SARAH

Sunday, July 20, 2014

the birds....and the bees

Yogis,
Did you feel it?   Did you feel the shift this week?  Summer settled herself in, around and on us. 

The cicadas began their daily drone.  The bees buzz picked up in intensity.  Now that many babies have left the nests the birds have settled into new routines.  The scream of the foxes startling in the late night.  And the summer noises now filling the dark hours as I sleep with the window wide open.  Summer……. Filled with aliveness……



Summer is the season of fire.  Heat.  And when we embrace it and let it in, we naturally relax and slow down - think of the people who live in the islands.    Don’t let your summer be days of going from air conditioning to air conditioning.  Be hot.   Be even a little uncomfortable.  And the heat makes us more flexible – think of how open we become once we begin to sweat when we exercise.  Our schedules can loosen up just a  bit.  Maybe pancakes for dinner.   It is the peak.  The top of the inhale. 

And with the shift this week, we moved from the perfectly manicured plants put out in May, to bushy, overgrown,  spreading, messy gardens.  Summer is not a time of tidiness.  It is wild.  And you should be too J  Let your hair frizz.  Let your nails get some air and light.   Get dirty.  Perhaps no makeup????    (BTW I stopped wearing all makeup 2 years ago and at that time I said I would let you all know how it went….well, it is so much easier,  it is cheaper, I can rub my eyes whenever the heck I want, men still flirt and just as many people love me)

Summer.  Open…Feeling everything……Fully alive in our bodies..….Hot……Strong…....Creative.   Where winter is a time to look inward with no distractions from nature…… Summer is the time to look outward, see clearly and move forward.   The earth is providing us now with  a dizzying array of color, smell and sound.  Be sure you are pausing to be immersed in all of it.  Drenched.

Be sure you are looking.  See close….

And see deep……


Notice what is right here beside you……..



And notice who is watching your every move…..



By the way.  Have you been outside barefoot in your yard yet this summer????  If not…..DO IT!!!   Get out and be.   Sit by your flowers and let the bees buzz surround you.  They help set your vibration.  Lay in your grass and watch the world go by.

Finally, as I came out to sit with the bees this weekend I startled baby bunny and he ran into the woods.  But even he couldn’t resist the chance to come back for a photo shoot…..


I love summer……and I love all of you,
SARAH