Sunday, July 15, 2018

.......bee-ing me


Yogis,
This week I chose to spend my time with the bees.

It honestly wasn’t a conscious decision. I headed out to the garden after taking Phoebe to the creek one late afternoon and noticed it was ‘bee time’. The sun no longer blazing on the bee balm, yet still gentle dappled sun, hot heavy air and several hours left before sunset. 

Bees of every size, shape and color…….

It became my daily routine.

Watching, listening and feeling them surround me as I sat.  Some avoided me, others checked me out and a few even accidently bumped into me as they flew on by. None bothered me in any way. I was simply part of their new landscape. I soon became ‘buzzed’ from their vibrations.

They also never tangled with each other. All varieties side by side as they shared the gifts the flowers had to offer. Nor do they prey on any other species. Bee-ing kind.

I then began to photograph them.

Have you ever tried to get a good picture of a bee? Well, you quickly realize where the phrase ‘busy as a bee’ comes from. They literally never sit still. Land, reach in, shimmy over, reach in, flap the wings, shake, fly to the next flower. Their wings flapping at an incredible 200 beats per second. Intent in their mission, there is no time to be wasted.

I found I had to find a spot, settle in and watch. Focus. Learning their timing and anticipating the next movement. At times standing, often on my knees and sometimes even sitting in the dirt.  Phone only inches from the hum. Steady breathing. Slow movement. No hurry. Bee-ing there fully.

In the matriarchy of the bee world, the queen rules the roost.  She lays 2000 eggs a day and the entire hive revolves around her. Directing the output of golden nutritious healing honey. Now that’s my kind of goddess!
I knew the picture I wanted.   I could see it in my minds eye.  I set my intention …….’I have a picture of a bee flying to the flower’.  I visualized it.  I ‘knew’ it would happen. Bee-lieving. I continued snapping trusting that I would capture the moment in time. And so, it came to ‘bee’…….

I am blessed to be able to share this space with the bees. Bee love.

Bee-ing me as often as possible,
SARAH


Sunday, July 8, 2018

......a poet


Yogis,
“Hello, sun in my face. “

A student shared her experience of a meditation talk she had attended the night before. It had been centered around a poem by Mary Oliver, and more specifically the last line which reads…...

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver’s writing always stops me in my tracks, touching something buried somewhere in the deep recesses of my body. A quiet inner longing that as often as I try, I can never quite put into words. She somehow does it with ease. That want to feel more. To live deeply. Be moved each moment by the beauty that awaits right outside the door. This was the third time she crossed my path reminding me to go back to read her work again.  All of the quotes here are hers.

“Ten times a day something happens to me like this - some strengthening throb of amazement - some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”
Attentiveness. I often photograph for this purpose. When patience sits with me I can see ‘it’ through the lens of my camera. Feel it under my bare feet. The wind at times whispering it in my ear. And the world notices back.

As I read some of her words I often want to shout to her through the page…..hey wait, I should have written that. As if she had been walking beside me the other day on my favorite trail and somehow read my mind. Heard my inner voice.

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore 
unsuitable.

“I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds 
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of 
praying, as you no doubt have yours. 

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, 
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.” 

I too can be invisible.

This morning while meditating a stirring opened my eyes. Through the open window I watch a fox emerge from the brush, soundlessly lifting onto my wood pile. Followed by another. And then one more, but this last one needing that quick frolic in the grass first. Following the leader. Perhaps a dad teaching the art of hunting. Or siblings out for their first solo adventure. For one brief moment they pause, three red faces peering up at me. One leaps down, then another and then another.  My heart resumes its beat.

“You can have the other words-chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I'll take grace. I don't know what it is exactly, but I'll take it.”

Grace. I know it when I feel it. The pouring through of aliveness unobstructed by those tight knots of worry or fear that I chose to untangle on that particular day.  When I surrender, lie back and allow myself to be touched. 

Mary Oliver often makes me cry, and that's a good thing.

“I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.”
SARAH

Yin Yoga Workshop
Sunday, July 15
3 - 5 pm
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Sunday, July 1, 2018

.......beachcombing


Yogis,
I stood at the edge of the ocean. Sand between my toes. The squawk of the seagulls above. Sun on my quickly bronzing skin. The water rushed in encircling my ankles and then just as quickly retreating back from whence it came. 

Beachcombing. The act of ‘an individual combing the beach and intertidal area for things of value, interest or utility.’ I was there to see what I could find, but in the process discovered that beachcombing mimics life.

Like the inhale, the incoming waves bringing in the new. Colors, shapes, textures. A broken conch shell, seaweed, crab claws. Making the unseen - seen.  Forming an intricate collage in the sand. Followed by the exhale of the outgoing waves. Taking that which was no longer needed. The heaviness burying my feet deeper in the sand.  The collage changed forever in a single breath. A single wave.  A single moment.
Impermanence. Three feet ahead I spot a piece of driftwood rushing in with the foam, but in the brief moment it takes my feet to free themselves and propel me forward, it’s gone. It may return…..but then again, it may not. Attachment causes suffering.

When I first comb the beach I am looking. It can be dizzying as I scan in search of that treasure. Expectations. But as I slow the breath, slow the steps and soften the eyes I begin to make the shift to seeing. Just as I am able to ‘look’ at you or ‘see’ you, I begin to see the life that lies at my feet. Imagining the history. Wondering what brought them here before me at this precise time. Our paths crossing. Seeing vs looking.

I remembered hearing over the week that there were sand dollars.  As I stood at the edge of the ocean taking pictures of the flow of the tide and the gifts it was bringing, I visualized the pattern a sand dollar holds. My camera suddenly focuses on a white shape. Had it been there all along or was I finally seeing? Had my vision brought it here? Reminded that each breath is a chance for something amazing, I pull it toward me.
The incoming tide in late morning. Strong, fierce, filled with life. We move our chairs, umbrellas, bags and shoes back….but never enough. Three times. Four times we move. Underestimating its power.

Before long an outgoing tide. Noticing that as time passed, the waves no longer reaching the same distance, items washed in become still. Drying in the heat of the baking sun above. No longer so rich in color. Left behind. For now.

A horseshoe crab that washed up earlier. I watch as each family who passed tried to save him. Placing him back into the edge of the water.  Urging him to swim. Attached. Not wanting to allow the death that was so clearly approaching. As the tide retracts he is finally allowed to rest and be with whatever is to come. Not unlike dusk or the fall which becomes winter.

Time passes. Only to begin all over again. Each day. Every day. Every breath.

I watch my feet, since where they are, is where I am. Here. Now. Perfect.

Beachcombing,
SARAH

Reiki

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

.......Ms Mugwort


Yogis,
I can’t remember exactly how or when Ms Mugwort and I were introduced.

Known as Artemisia Vulgaris, I first got to know her along the edge of the C&O canal.  She is a fairly low lying green plant with toothed leaves spreading out from her center stem. You probably wouldn’t notice her when walking by. She gets a little bushy later in the season and sends up a taller stalk with small white flowers.   

I only remember hearing that mugwort was helpful for vivid dreaming. Which was all I needed to pull her into my life…….
I have never been much of a dreamer. An occasional dream here and there, always in black and white and often something slightly scary. Being chased, falling, finding myself nude in an inappropriate place, or everyone’s personal favorite, walking into a room for a final exam and realizing with horror that I never attended the class.


I knew there was much more to dreaming that I was missing out on and Ms Mugwort seemed to be the assistant I needed.  She is known as a psychic herb and even had a cameo appearance in Harry Potter.  Mugwort is known for her magic.

First, I began pinching off a portion of a plant while out walking and sliding it into my pillowcase, under the pillow.  There it would remain until I changed my pillowcase (note to self to remember she is in there or you find shreds of dried mugwort in your washing machine and clean clothes.) Eventually I dug up a couple of small plants and placed them in the northern quadrant of my medicine wheel near my sage – both plants who guide us to relax the thinking mind and open ourselves to higher insight and wisdom. 

Soon I began cutting and drying her tops so she could continue her teaching over the winter.  Using a teaspoon of the dried herb to make a cup of tea before bed will also open the mind to new experiences. 

I can tell you she does her job quite well! My dreams, often in color now, have depth, feeling, new places, experiences and messages.  Many times a dream will stay with me for the entire day, or linger even longer. The majestic male lion who had men’s green fishing boots on because he had accidently stepped into them and couldn’t get them off.  Lying in a tub of warm water and being lifted and asked to let go. Sensations of floating, connection, touch and color.

As I sit here typing this I glanced up only to realize she is watching me from the vase of flowers and herb cuttings I brought here to the beach with me. She is also a good travelling companion!

I am not sure how I met Ms Mugwort.  But I do know we will remain friends. I would love to introduce you to her……..

Under her spell,
SARAH



Sunday, June 17, 2018

......bare feet


Yogis,
It is officially time!!  The time to remove those shoes and begin to go barefoot on a consistent basis!

My feet wait all winter for this. When the ground finally warms, and I take off those confining, dark, constricting things we call footwear, my feet shriek with delight!  Free at last……free at last.  Hallelujah!! (as the chorus of angels sings in the background)

Everything begins with the feet………
I read a book recently about a doctor who works with older patients. The first thing he asks them to do is to remove their shoes.  He says he can read their story by looking at their feet.  What story do your feet tell?

Feet are not meant to be smashed into shoes and held in one position for twelve hours a day.  They are our second set of eyes.  Their job is to feel and send us messages about where we are and where we are headed.  When you look down and see your feet….. there you are.  They ground us. They make us present.

Our feet absorb the earth energy.  The energy of relaxation, steadiness and calm. When there is a constant layer of rubber between them and the dirt, they can no longer do their job. Why take medications when you can simply step on the dirt?

They are also supposed to be spread. Space between the toes and wide across the ball. A lifted arch in the center that becomes strong and defined through rooting down through the four corners of the feet and activating the inner calves and thighs. The arch is home to an important energy center– Pada Bandha. Through this center we make a direct connection to the pelvic floor. Wake up the feet, wake up the body!

Being barefoot is now coined ‘earthing’ and science has gotten involved. Studies finding that going shoeless may reduce inflammation in the body, strengthen the immune system and improve heart health. All I know is it it feels fantastic.

If you always have your shoes on, try going barefoot in the house first.  Have a basket or mat inside the front door to remind you to set those toes free. Then try the grass. The dirt. Step in a puddle and practice picking up sticks with your toes. It’s the old ‘use it or lose it’ to keep the feet strong, toned and alive. By the end of the summer with practice you may be able to walk on gravel!

My feet have a permanent ‘earth stain’ on them which can’t be removed with soap.  I wear it as a badge of honor.  I am hoping many of you have one soon.

Freedom,

SARAH

Sunday, June 10, 2018

.....in awe


Yogis,

You would think that after some fifty plus years it would lose its sparkle. That by now I would find it blasé. So predictable. Nothing special as it happens every day. But oh no.  Quite the opposite. 

Every time it takes my breath away……..
How amazing is this Earth we call home! That I am able to take a seemingly lifeless dry seed the size of my pinkie fingernail and place it into dirt and a week later see that telltale small crack in the earth’s surface.  The unmistakable hint of what is to come. And later that day taking my evening stroll through the plants to see what they are up to, only to discover a sprout spreading herself wide open, clearly grateful to have finally been released from her temporary close quarters.  Welcome Green Bean!

My heart skips a beat. We all long for miracles to take us away from the mundane when all we really have to do is look down. 

I am one of those gardeners that trusts the earth to know what to do. Perhaps it is really that I lack some patience. I don’t test the soil, add minerals or ‘feed’ my plants. I simply get on my knees, turn the soil for a moment or two, dig a little hole and drop the seed in. No fuss, no muss.

Then all that is required is water, which somehow miraculously happens to fall from the sky above us with frequency, and bright light.  What brighter light could there be than that the enormous ball of fire that rises above us every single day without fail?  I watch each day as this new life I co-created reaches toward it.

And did I mention that in a few weeks I will be enjoying her delicious gifts with my dinner?

No, I never tire of it. And if I feel at all removed, it only takes about 15 minutes of quietly sitting in nature to pull me right back in. Miracles all around! The deep throated croak of the frogs that crack me up. The deer I spot resting in the leaves in the woods with his newly formed fuzzy horns and that large purple ball of a flower that amazingly manages to sit perched on top of a three-foot high skinny stem for us to enjoy. 

The wonder of earth. Let’s all be kind to her. 

Humbled,
SARAH



Sunday, June 3, 2018

.....a cup of tea

Yogis,

As I sit here writing this to you all (on the floor, of course!) I am sipping a cup of tea. A new Pukka flavor my sister gave me last week called ‘Womankind’.  A blend of rose, vanilla, shatavari root, licorice, chamomile and peppermint. The perfect antidote after a long walk on the canal in the soaking rain. 

Arriving back home with a dog that resembled a drowned rat, soggy socks and frizzy hair I felt the need to be warmed from the inside. Something that harmonized with the sound of the rain on the roof. Looking through my vast collection of teas, this one fit the bill perfectly.  The soothing energy of chamomile yet a gentle lift from the peppermint, surrounded by the heart opening feminine energy of rose. Just what I need on this gray Sunday afternoon.

So often a cup of tea is all you need…………………
It’s funny because I always hated tea.  I never understood how the British could drink it every afternoon and I was always embarrassed when someone served iced tea at an event because I simply couldn’t pretend to like it. Looking back the choices in teas were pretty limited and the quality was not that high, but in my mind tea equaled gross.

It wasn’t until someone gave me some Tazo teas one Valentines Day, in particular the Wild Orange, that I began to look at tea differently.  Perhaps she had something to offer which I hadn’t opened myself to.  Maybe the judgment I had made 25 years ago could afford to develop some cracks.  My love affair had begun.

Now I even have a tea station in my home with close to twenty choices……

I drink tea now. I invite people over for tea. I dry my plants to make tea. I have little mesh tea bags where you can make your own blend for a single cup. My bright yellow kettle gets a good workout.

Teas, like the plants they are made from have unlimited personalities. There are those teas who help with sleep, improve focus, calm the nerves and make you dream (thanks mugwort!). Blends for digestive concerns, immune system builders and those that calm menopause symptoms.  Lemon balm when I need to smile more and a good hearty Chai when life seems unsettled.  

Tea has become a dependable friend. Tea is good for the soul……..
Sereni-tea,
SARAH