Sunday, April 20, 2014

......a taste for life

Yogis,

I am ready for a nap!

Our family spends Easter weekend at the beach.  Tradition has Saturday night dinner at our place.  Salmon on the grill, ham for the meat eaters, and plenty of grilled veggies and fresh fruit.  Sunday late morning is always brunch at my sister’s.  Baked egg dishes, bagels, dinner leftovers, lox, fruit and coffee cake.  About half way through the meal I feel it start to creep in.   First a simple yawn, which slowly works its way to multiples as I slide deeper and deeper into the couch, until all I want to do is lie down on the floor for a quick nap.  Maybe no one will notice.  Brunch always has that effect on me.

This week in classes we worked with our energy of fire, Manipura Chakra, our heat, vision and inner strength.  Moving toward what it is that we want.  But the energy of fire is also our digestion.  Agni…..
 
File:Passionately - Fire flames reaching to the sky.jpg
When our digestive system is strong and functioning at peak performance, we bring in the food, take from it all that provides nourishment, and eliminate all that doesn’t serve us….letting it go.  All done without a lot of thought.  Smoothly, efficiently and consistently.  Meal after meal after meal.  An effortless natural flow that leaves us energized and satisfied.  Flowing in…..flowing out.

But Agni is not solely about the digestion of food.  It is also our digestion of life.  Breathing in and receiving life, as it is – chewing slowly and enjoying each of life’s many flavors.  Taking from it all of the things that help move our soul forward – the enjoyment, the love, the lessons, as well as the pain.  But then just as smoothly, letting it all go.  Bringing each day in as you live it to the fullest, but then clearing out to make room the for the next. 

We should be just as choosy (if not more) with what we swallow in the books we read, the tv we watch and the company we keep, as we are with the foods we eat.   Because just as too much caffeine can make our nights sleepless, so too can searching the web right before heading to bed.  Too much acidic food can cause heartburn but holding onto anger has the same result.  Heavy food can make us sluggish and uninspired while listening too long to the news may leave you feeling that our world is a mess without much you can do about it.  And as I know, eating a lot of carbs in the middle of the day for me is a sure fire way to send me back to bed….the same result I get from too much chatting and not enough silence!

Worry can act like processed food, while stress can produce similar effects to cigarettes.  Negativity and judgment can weigh us down like a very big piece of cake.  Not speaking our truths can coat our throats like too much coke.   And sadness can cause us to ‘lose our appetite’.

When our Agni is strong it is like a fire that we have tended throughout the evening.  Keeping it stoked, steady and bright.  Never roaring uncontrollably, but also never allowed to dwindle to smoldering embers.  It means being able to digest everything we take in through the eyes, ears, nose and mouth.   Surrounding ourselves with what nourishes us and cleaning out the frig of that which tends to get stuck!

And speaking of digestion…….she’s back!!  And she is one of the best digestive aids that exist.  Before you head out for any weed killer, please re-visit
 

“Ode to Dandelion”


Absorbing love and eliminating worry,
SARAH

Sunday, April 13, 2014

creating life with rocks

Yogis,

I have always loved rocks.  When I was a little girl, wherever I went my eyes were toward the earth and if a rock caught my eye, in the pocket it went.  My rock collection was always a shoe box full of every day rocks in various sizes and shapes, in mostly varying shades of brown.  When most people would look in, I have a feeling they just saw a pile of rocks, but to me every one was special.  Every one brought back the memory of where I found it.  Each one felt different in my hand.  Each one had its own story and I never tired of hearing them.

So here I am 40+ years later and I am still collecting rocks…..

 
They just happen to be a little bit bigger…………….

But this isn’t a story about rocks, but about creating your own life.  We each create our lives.  We make choices in every moment of every day, even when we are unconscious of them, and even when our choice is to make no choices.  As infinite choice makers, when these are combined together, layered over each other, and in unity with our collective human choice making, this moment is created.   Life does not happen to you…….unless that is how you have chosen to live your life. 

So if you want different, choose different!

It begins with earth energy – becoming still enough, often enough to notice where you are.  Relaxing and sensing that at this moment everything is ok -and that your life from the next moment forward is unwritten.  A blank canvas with pure unlimited potential.   From there we dive into the movement and feeling that comes from the energy of water.  Here we go deep within to uncover our desires.   Not our simple daily wants, but those soul fulfilling, expansive things that make your heart sing. 

Then we create a vision – fire energy - seeing clearly what it will be like when what we want has manifested!  Feeling it as if it is already here.  Visualizing it with an unwavering focus.   And then choosing it and taking action.  Choosing to create.   And doing it (not trying…doing). 

So back to the rocks……………

In my back yard my medicine wheel garden is on one side.  I love my wheel.  I spend hours on end in there and love to bring others in.    On the other side of the backyard is a flat area overlooking the woods.  It has a special energy.  When I first noticed it I would sit on the ground there.  Then I placed a slice of a tree there.   I often had a vision of a huge rock there that I would be able to climb up on to sit or lay.  One time I was seeing a yoga platform there.   So I knew something was supposed to happen, but it wasn’t clear.  Seeing the blank space, knowing I wanted to create something special there and holding the vision but not tied to a specific outcome.

 
This winter during our street progressive dinner, one of the families lit their outdoor fire pit and we all sat late into the night warmed by the fire and the friendship in a connected community circle.  My vision now included fire. 

Each week I walk to the river to sit tucked away from the people and the path, usually on a rock.  I have been going to the same area for quite a while now, but one day I suddenly saw that where I sat was natures’ own sitting circle.  Various rocks creating their own perfect formation.  It was beautiful  This was it!    My vision was now clear.  Time for action!


A trip to our local quarry and 24 hours later 7 large rocks – well, I guess boulders - were lowered into my back yard.  I have stood, sat and laid in the clear open space to visualize which rock goes where.   I have walked the circle, traced it with a stick, measured it with my footsteps and imagined what it will be like once the rocks have been set.  I have meditated sitting on the largest of the rocks.  Knowing if I simply keep my vision and continue taking the steps forward, the Universe will co-create the perfect circle with me (with a little help from a local guy with a forklift). 

So is it just that I want a circle of rocks?  Is it for the look?  The resale value of the house?

No.  I wanted to create this as yet another step on my journey.  Now I see Goddess Gatherings, Full Moon parties, talking circles and a wonderful place to sit with friends for a cup of tea (or a beer) after a garden visit.  And who knows what I haven’t even imagined yet! 

Life is limitless so think big.   What you can see in your mind you can hold in your hand.  So what is it that you want?

……and I still find rocks in my pockets when I go to put my jeans in the wash.    

Creating life moment by moment,
SARAH

Sunday, April 6, 2014

I am trying!

Yogis,

On Monday we entered a new month, and with that came the end of “A Mindful Month” where 80 of us meditated daily for 10 minutes.   For some it was a brand new experience and for others it was a time to get back into the routine.  For some it sparked a new energy within and for others there were some stumbles and perhaps even times with a complete stop.  It was all good.  It was all what it was supposed to be.

I sent out a note asking people to share how it went and what they experienced.  Most of the replies I got were that it felt great, they could see the differences it was making and they were going to try to stick with it! 

There it was again.   That darn word that we all use so often.  TRY.
 

Last Friday night in yoga class as we all sat up from Savasana, the teacher said she had to apologize.  She realized that while guiding us in the final rest she gave the cue that we should “try” to be still.  In her training they work with essential speech and the word try just simply doesn’t fit in.  We either are still or we aren’t.   Our effort is simply to come to the mat and end in Savasana each time.  Choose and do. The stillness will follow in time, with patience, when it is meant to. 

On Tuesday morning  I went for a solo run in the dark stillness of the early morning and all of the meditation emails I had received were running through my consciousness.    It was suddenly so clear.  We can’t “try” to meditate.  We either do it….or we don’t.  The word try implies that there is something complicated about it, which there isn’t.  We just choose to meditate and once a day we sit for 10 minutes.  That’s it.  The word try has to be removed. 

It’s like when you are having a party and someone tells you they will try to come.  In my book, I don’t put them into the final headcount.  How about you?  Or what if I told you – I am going to try to keep the dog in the house – but when I head out, I leave the door open just  a crack.  The word try is the crack in the door.

The word try leaves that window open that it is ok not to move forward.   It tells both your mind (which doesn’t need a lot of openings, thank you very much) and the Universe, that you may or may not do it…… that you will try.  So that is what comes back to you.

Say both of these phrases out loud.  Feel the energy behind each one:
·         I will try to meditate each day
·         I meditate every single day
Who do you think will be meditating 6 months from now! 

When we choose something….anything, send out that vibration and move forward the Universe will support us every step of the way.    The Universe loves clarity and making a clear choice sends a strong signal.   This is one of the natural laws of the Universe.  On the other hand, if  you say you will try –  well that is what the Universe supports.  It will help you in your “trying”. 

If something is important to you, then just choose it and do it.  Trying is just too darn difficult.  It is an extra layer that is unnecessary. 

So when I got back from my run on Tuesday, I had an email from another one of the March Meditators.  Her note said  “this will continue....I am taking the word 'try' out of my vocab when it comes to my practice.”  Wow.  The Universe was quite clear this week on what I should write about!  Thank you!

So this week, try to Notice every time you use the word “try” and see if you can restate your intention.   If it isn’t something you are really planning to do (like coming to my party J) recognize that and be honest with yourself.   But if it is something you want…..state it loud and clear!

I am creating this life and I love it,
SARAH

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Marching toward.......happy

March Yogis,

When all is said and done, what is it that we all want?    We search, pay big money, travel far and wide, try new things, switch jobs, change partners, buy new things……all in that elusive search for happiness.   We all want to be happy.  Is that too much to ask of this human existence? 

Not that fleeting happiness that comes when we have that perfect outfit on, or are driving the new shiny car for those first few months.  Something much deeper.  Something that is sustained through the waves that life sends us.  Contentment.  An unwavering sense that all is good. 

……everything that you search for, everything that you want, is already inside you.  Everything.  (from Notes From the Universe)

                                ………………..even happiness.

I am Happy Wallpapers for Desktop
 
Our conditioning has us believing that to be happy we must own certain things, live in certain places, have the perfect family and be successful.  That once we have that all accomplished, we can lay back and enjoy all of the happiness that it brings! 

It’s that syndrome of – “as soon as…..” then I will be able to relax and simply be happy.    The feeling that I am “on the way” to happiness.  But there is nothing on the outside that can sustain happiness.   Nothing.  And the more time we spend searching out there, the more we suffer. 

Happiness is an energy that is within all of us, just like anger, sorrow and desire.  We know it when we feel it!  But we mistakenly tie it to today’s trigger of the energy instead of recognizing it as us.  The new job is so exciting and fresh (and isn’t the old job) that we feel light, invigorated and, well, happy.  But over time, the hours, the paperwork and the annoying coworker begin to  fade that fresh shine until we are eventually complaining about it no differently than the job we left. 

But the new job was only the current trigger.  It reminded us of what it is like to feel our own self-worth and  to see what we have to offer in this life.  The new job caused us to be present, aware, awake and see clearly because we had no expectations, memories or baggage tied to it. 

The real value of meditation…..the true gift it offers…..is to teach us to be at that same level of presence, have that same level of clarity to notice what each moment offers.    It reveals the completeness that we have inside of us at all times – not only when things are going well. 

So back to happiness…..what exactly does it feel like?  Click on the link, turn your volume way up, close your eyes, listen………..and feel.
 
 
So that song awakens our happiness. Opens the chest, lifts the heart and makes you want to move!   Personally it makes me want to wave my arms up in the air!   Makes the sides of my mouth curl up without even trying.

One of the most difficult lessons on the spiritual path is that to be happy, we must choose it.   My mind had a very difficult time taking that in.  It resisted.  When I went into my lows I quickly forgot what happy felt like.  It would seem so far away that it didn’t seem possible that I had the ability to will it back….especially with all that was going on around me.  I would wait to feel happy again no matter how long it took.  Not believing that I had the power to choose happiness in the midst of it all. 

But we do.  Every one of us.  

That doesn’t mean we won’t experience sadness, anger or grief.  We will still be faced with all of them, and should allow them in just as much as the happiness.  But the difference is that we know when we are done processing those other emotions, happiness is just a choice away.   It is our underlying current and wants us to bathe in it.  It is our center.

Extremely empowering.  I can create my life.  And when I choose happiness, no one or no thing has the power to take that away from me.

If at first it feels like you are pretending…..no problem!  Because remember that what you send out is what you will receive.  So choose to send out the happy vibe.

Don’t worry…..be happy,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Marching toward.......level green

Yogis,

Where February feels so brief, March seems to have a long shelf life.   I originally thought this would be the final “Marching toward” email regarding meditation, only to look at the calendar and realize there is yet one more Sunday this month.   And this March keeps reminding us that winter is not quite done with us, so take this as a sign from the Universe to continue the focus inward.  Spring will be here soon enough and the pace of life will quicken in a hurry.  

I would like to focus this week on worry as it is one of our most common thought patterns that keep us from seeing this moment clearly…..and one that meditation can help to lessen.   

Our system has its own internal security alert system.  Our natural state is one of feeling safe and calm.   Not having to be on guard.  In olden times we went into a higher alert for reasons such as being chased by a bear, or spotting a tornado in the distance.  Adrenaline is meant for true fight or flight situations.  

But today’s pressures, deadlines, multitasking and that drive to have it all, have caused our internal emotional state to be more like the Homeland Security Alert System………
 
dhsadvisory

…….where we often find ourselves, like our county, at a steady state of yellow, with sporadic jumps up to orange.  Worry becomes the norm.  The baseline from which we view the world. 

But here is the thing about worry.   There is absolute nothing that is helped by worry.  Nothing.  I know, I know….that can’t be true.  If I don’t worry and keep all of the bad possibilities in mind, they are more likely to happen.  But it is quite the opposite. 

Worry is a spiral of thoughts that is very constricting, and stresses the body.  Worry goes round and round and round and has absolutely nothing to do with this moment.  Worry is about the future, which doesn’t exist in this moment.   But the worry itself does exist in this moment, blurring our vision, causing us to view the world from a suspicious, guarded position.  Expecting things to happen.   Worry is negative energy.   And you know what?  Our thoughts become things.   So we want to pick the good ones!

So how does meditation help?

If you stop and notice this moment – just this moment……very rarely is there something to worry about.  This moment is pure, it is here and things are ok.   Big exhale to that……  Aaaaahhhhh……………..

Meditation is about doing just that.  A conscious daily stopping and noticing of this moment, exactly as it is .  Feeling the gift of the breath inside.  Sensing the support of the earth underneath us.  Accepting a hug from the benevolent force of the Universe.  Seeing clearly. 

And the more we are able to do this in meditation, the more it spills over into daily life.  Noticing as soon as the worry creeps in and drawing ourselves back to the present moment.  Seeing that yes, everything at this moment is ok, and moving forward from there.  Making decisions that must be made.  Showing compassion to others who need it.  Helping those that need our support.  Taking action.  All from a place of clarity that isn’t distorted by worry.  You just know what to do.   These are the things that make a difference. 

We draw toward us that which we send out.  Meditation, over time, allows us to choose our thoughts.  So my vote is for a whole lot more level green!!!!   Grounded, relaxed and safe.  With spikes only when required that quickly drop back down as soon as necessary action is taken. 

Your body will be grateful, your sleep will be deeper, and there will be a lot more space for joy – which is what life is all about. 

 
I see you and you are perfect,



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Marching toward......me


Yogis,
From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

III. 1
Contemplation
is
the confining
of thought
to one point

Here are some of the questions I get about mediation practice from those just beginning the inward journey:
What exactly should I do when I meditate?  Am I doing it right?  Am I supposed to feel something?  Don’t I need some special training? 

There are as many meditation techniques as there are days in the year.  Visualization.  Meditating on an object.  Naming each sensation as it arises.  Using mantra (sacred sounds).  Counting breaths. Listening to a guide.   But they are in their truest essence all the same.  Meditation is simply the stopping of the “doing” and tuning in to the “watching”, and drawing the mind toward one point. 

Let’s go back to the image of Monkey Mind.   Our typical state has him swinging wildly from branch to branch to branch, quickly changing directions, dropping, climbing and all at dizzying speed.  Tiring just to watch him!  But when I meditate I visualize him gradually slowing his pace, lowering himself down through the branches until he reaches the ground.   He comes to sit right in front of me completely relaxed…….and with direct eye contact.  Watching each other.  Getting to know him.  Noticing for the first time how thick his hair is.   The length of his fingers.  Sensing his tremendous strength, yet seeing through the outer toughness that deep in those dark eyes there lies an inner gentleness.

The confining of thought to one point. 
 
 
 
Just then I hear a rustle in the distance and notice that other monkeys are now swinging overhead with lots of chatter. Movement.  Action.  I have a choice.  I can allow my attention to widen, move upward, pick up speed and  become distracted to see everything going on…….or I can draw my awareness back and look into the soul of the one who is here right now, at this moment.  And by seeing him, I can soften to allow him to see “me”. 

The confining of thought to one point.  

It is no different when we sit and watch our breath.  It is only that now instead of the monkey it is me sitting there making direct eye contact with myself .  Watching each other.  Getting to know each other.  Looking not upward at the distractions in the mind, but instead looking into the soul of the one who is here right now.  At this moment.  Seeing through the outer shields I have constructed to reveal my own inner, perfect light. 

It takes practice.  It takes awareness.  It takes courage.  It takes the confining of thought to one point…….. because…..

III. 2
Meditation
depends upon this
foundation for directing thoughts
into a continous flow
of awareness

 
Aware and in awe of what is right here in front of me,
SARAH

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Marching toward.....our natural state

Yogis,

“March….A Mindful Month”, now in Day #9, has 80 of us meditating daily for at least 10 minutes.  Each of us finding a window of 10 minutes in our day to sit quietly and observe our breath.  
 
Easy……..right?
 
monkey-mind
Well it should be.  We are merely sitting quietly with ourselves.  Finding just 10 minutes of the 720 that each day offers.  But somehow that can turn out to be the hardest thing in the world to do!!!

It’s actually kind of funny when you step back and think about it.  We have a hard time being alone with ourselves.  We are able to be with that difficult boss, the overly sweet woman at the drugstore, the annoying neighbor and the gloomy relative.  But when it comes to spending time with little old me and see what’s going on in there, I choose going to the dentist instead.  I think perhaps the floor needs scrubbing.  Are you sure you don’t want me to  go to DMV for you?  Anything not to be alone with my thoughts.

Why is that? 

Mostly it is because we are out of practice.  As small children we spent hours playing alone.  Daydreaming and spending time with our imaginary friends.  Allowing what was happening on the inside be just what is was.  In touch with our inner world.

But as adults, with kids, jobs, time pressures and schedules….not mentioning the streaming info that the tv and internet constantly pump into us,  our minds become busy.  The old “Mind Full”.   Jumping from thought to thought to thought with no space in between.  This is referred to as Monkey Mind. 

My morning alarm is set to WTOP.   For about 2 minutes each morning I hear the “news”, which is the only radio I hear all day.  But in those 2 minutes they probably cover 5 or 6 stories.  Snippets.  High level, no depth, usually leaving me with something that I ought to be worried about.  How can I hope to have space between my thoughts, when the world around me does not.   

During the day as we move from task to task to task, using any gap between events to check email and Facebook, the Monkey Mind is not noticed.  In fact it loves us to be ridiculously busy.  That’s where it thrives.   As soon as there is the slightest pause in our activity, it reminds us of what to think about and do next!  Like the commander in charge.   And we begin to believe that is just “how we are”. 

But boy……when we choose to sit still and be quiet, Monkey Mind is not a happy camper.  It ramps up and begins to shout commands, distracting you from the breath, and trying ever so hard to take you off of your seat before the 10 minutes is up.  And that is normal!   

However, our natural state….a place of calm….is always in there behind the curtain.  Trust me on this.  Our job is just to sit and watch the Monkey Mind, not fight it but also not throw fuel on it.  No arguing with it.  No debate or judgment.   Watch.  Watch some more.  Be curious.  Having the courage to see what is going on inside so that over time the mind will begin to settle.   It is a practice. 

A March back toward our natural state.  And it has to begin somewhere…………….

I am below looking up and watching (and giggling at the absurdity of it J),
SARAH