Sunday, September 14, 2014

Too much room

Yogis,

The other morning I was running alone in the quiet of the early morning – pre sunrise.   I turned on a street that I hadn’t run up in some time.  The very first house on the street is an old 1930s style bungalow, with  local stone covered now in ivy, old clapboard and trees nestled in tight against the house.   I have always loved that house.  It is special.

Then my eyes caught the for sale sign posted out front.  Now my mind did not jump to a vision of a young family moving in and raising their children there with a swing set in the back and a rocker on the porch.  No.  My mind immediately jumped to the vision of the developer buying it, knocking it down and building yet another 6 bedroom, multi-story house with a 3 car garage.

Because that is where we are right now…..and have been for quite some time.

What is this fascination we have with big?

 

On my street of only  12 houses, 3 are ones currently under construction that required the removal of more trees than I care to count to make room for their over $2 million dollar size.   Every for sale sign becomes a construction site. 

This desire for bigger does not limit itself to homes.  We all know what supersizing did to the health of our country.  Parking lots are now filled with more SUVs than cars, and they have gotten so big that there is now a need to add a small compact car to the family as an additional vehicle. 

And has anyone but me noticed that these new MEGA rolls of paper towels and toilet paper don’t even fit on our conventional holders???  What is that all about?   It takes at least 5 or 6 times around before you have any hope of a spinning action to occur.  I went to Target determined to find some regular sized products.  Here is what I found instead.  The words huge and enormous are getting a lot of play these days…….with regular being out of fashion.



 Somehow I thought that one bright side of this long recession would be that bigger might not seem better any longer.  But I was mistaken.

Big is not inherently bad.  Just as small is not inherently good.  I am not suggesting we all go back to living in small cape cods (although the idea of trying to live in a yurt for a year has a certain appeal to me).   But where does “special” fit into all of this?  Is special no longer of value?

Have we been convinced that if I have more I will be happier?  Perhaps with more room in the house, my seemingly small life will expand to fill the vast empty space.    But I believe it goes the other direction.

Where does a writer retreat to when writing their novel?  A cabin in the woods.  Where does an artist spend their time when creating?  Often a small home by the sea.  And where do we go when we want to find inner calm?  Typically some tucked away corner in the house that feels special. 

Last night as my father’s 80th birthday celebration began to wind down, one by one those of us left dragged chairs into arguably the smallest room in the house – the back porch – sitting shoulder to shoulder, while my dad held court with stories of a life well lived.  The room is special and we all wanted to feel closer. 

When I look down at my body I see how small a human being is.  The space I occupy is tiny even in comparison to this room.  Giving it too much space is distracting when all I really want is to live inside my soul. 

I love sleeping in my little tent,

SARAH

Sunday, September 7, 2014

thinking of you

Yogis,

Lately I’ve had several  people say to me – “I always think of you when I __________.”   

Wake up early to meditate…….. Catch myself using the word try…………. Drink my infusions……………. Hear a song from class……..  Whatever it may be, but something that sparks a memory.

But early this week I had an insight.  Its more than “thinking of you”.  It is a connection.
 
When these sudden remembrances happen it first appears that they are in the mind.  But the mind is just the trigger.  When you begin to step back and watch, the whole body is involved.   You aren’t merely “thinking of me” but feeling my energy.  My presence, right there with you.   In fact sometimes the mind might not even be the trigger, but merely the transmitter.  Like when you smell lavender essential oil and you are suddenly transported into savasana in class getting your head rub.

Connections.    So the word kept showing up for me all week. 

A dear friend moved to Hawaii and we had the chance to talk by phone this week.  What seems like half way around the world in geography, but only an instant in time to form a sense of being together, laughing and sharing news.  It reminded me of how I always defined a “true friend”.  Someone that you can go a year or more without even speaking to, and pick up like you never missed a beat when you get together.  No pressure to see each other, write or talk on the phone.  No “whose turn is it to reach out”.    It happens when it is supposed to and feels absolutely right. 

A soul connection

A woman at work has supported me as my analyst for about 14 years when suddenly we were both told that the pairings were changing.   An unwanted pulling apart.  We worked together so well.  Almost everything done through email because we knew what each other needed and it didn’t require a lot of “talking”.  I think I only say her in person once or twice.    We connected virtually and became quite close.  I could feel her through her emails.  Just like me with the many of you that I have never even met.  And what I told her on Friday was that once you have that connection, it never fades and never goes away…..even if you never see each other again.    The same is true even when one of us leaves this physical body.  The energetic connection is never lost.  The soul never forgets.

So I think my life long definition of “true friend” is now being redefined as someone with whom I have connected on a soul level.   Deep and real and unchanging.  Not effected by the tides of change or time. 

And wouldn’t you know that in my Friday night yoga class our teacher told a story about “connection”. 

So the next time you go barefoot and “think of me”, close your eyes, feel me and  visualize us together……because we are!  Always.

I can feel you all,

SARAH

Sunday, August 31, 2014

a bad hair day

Yogis,

A September to Remember begins with the first email tonight!  There is still time to jump on board.   Send me an email.

So funny how the littlest things can take us off our game……………..

I have always identified myself with my hair.  As a young girl I had very long, very straight blond hair.  The type that you could almost sit on.  In middle school my friend Michelle and I would spend Friday nights braiding each other’s hair into dozens of corn rows so we could sleep on them and in the morning have wild frizzy hair.  As a teenager I took some chances and went through both the Dorothy Hamill and Farah Fawcett stage, followed  by perms in college and finally highlighting.   

Hair…..I have a lot of it!



I don’t get my hair done often – about 3 or 4 times a year.  And this was the week.   2 inches cut off and highlights.  And it ended up……….brown.  A basic brown.   Hmmm.  Darker and somewhat plain.

Now don’t get me wrong.  It isn't horrible.  It is just brown.  Every time I walk by a mirror I do a double take.  It doesn’t feel like me.   And I am finding that it bothers me.

Ego. 

Two years ago I stopped wearing makeup and wrote about how I wanted people to see “me” when they looked, and not the makeup.  Can I do the same thing with my hair?  Should I?  Why does any of this even matter. 

There are people living in constant fear.  Those that are hungry.  Those in war.  And I am worrying about, thinking about, strategizing about….my hair.  Why?  I am watching. 

Do I want to look good for praise.  For acceptance.  For approval?  Do I think that if I look good I will get more looks, thereby increasing the odds of someone really seeing “me”?   Or if I feel comfortable in my looks does it give me more of the confidence to let “me” out?  I am watching.

Now I know why we have the expression  “A Good hair day”!   At the beach there is a salon named “Bad Hair Day”.  Can I live with “Bad Hair 4 months”?  Or do I march back to the hairdresser and get an adjustment.  Sigh.  I am watching.

Stay tuned…………

Usually brown is my favorite color,



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