Sunday, May 24, 2015

....journey with no end

Yogis,
This week I was dialoguing with someone about the spiritual path and she commented that she has such a long way to go!  She isn’t the first one that has said that to me.  My reaction is to say “great”!

We all have a long way to go…..and thank goodness because that is the absolute brilliance of it all! 

This is a journey with no end.  The heading there is the practice.  The movement forward sometimes in tremendous leaps and more often at a snail’s pace where you must be ever mindful to even see the movement.  But it doesn’t matter!  The joy is in the going.
The yoga asana practice is one of the best teachers of this which is why I love it so much.  Let me give you the example that was a defining moment for me.  Virasana, hero pose, involves sitting with your knees bent and together and feet spread behind you so your hips land in between them.  This pose is a huge quad opener and for someone like me who ran for years the pose seems unattainable.  They are large muscles, and it takes patience and consistency to coax them into loosening their death grip.  So I chose to work on the pose daily, visualizing myself sitting flat on the mat without feeling like I had hot daggers in my thighs. 

Each day toward the end of practice I sat.  First with a block under my hips and over time with just a blanket.  I would arrive in the pose, let out a large exhale, close my eyes and sit with the discomfort.  Some days after 30 seconds I had to come out, but then others I could sense just the slightest inkling of a release.  I watched.  I watched my mind, my body, the way I would tend to hold my breath.  I felt.  Weeks passed, months passed, a year passed.  Until one day I noticed that I was indeed sitting on the floor between my feet and could relax.  Aaahhhhhh…….

So I was “there”.  I arrived.  Yay for me!  But you know what?  Instead of a fist pumping sense of conquering, I was a little sad.  I could drop into hero and tell others that I could do it…… but I felt it no longer held learning.   All of its lessons where in the going there.  I had actually begun to look forward to the daily teachings of the discomfort.   But then I had the aha moment that being in the pose was only the first baby step.  I still had a long way to go to understand its intention.  Thank goodness!

This is true of all of the poses, of the meditation path, of the chakras….of the Universe.  They are all infinite and just when you think you arrived you get a glimpse of the three levels deeper.  Endless. 

In my evening classes we are all working headstand in the center of the room.  I keep reminding everyone that it doesn’t matter if they still have their knees on their elbows or are kicking all the way up.  There is no hurry.  Let headstand show you what she offers in each moment.  Being able to “do a headstand” is lovely but does not mean you have arrived.  We all have a long way to go. 

I LOVE this journey………………

And I love all of you,
SARAH

Sunday, May 17, 2015

...closing one door to open another

Yogis,
Two days ago we closed on our house next door which we had owned for 28 years.  It was a home more than a house.  It had character that wrapped you in it’s warm loving embrace whenever you entered.  Within its walls we raised 3 boys, 1 dog and countless hamsters and hermit crabs.  We lived through three major renovations of its physical structure and it supported my journey through major life changes.

I entered that house at 25 years old.  A very young mother leaving my maiden years behind as I juggled a full time sales job, a 3 year old, daycare and daily life.  I left it 20 years later with 2 children out of the house and my youngest already in high school, and me beginning my own physical and spiritual transition from mother to wise woman. 

Over these past 7 years the house has been called home by two other wonderful families but it was time for change.  The house deserves its own permanent family to love and infuse it with new fresh vibrant energy.   

All week I was asked if I was sad but I wasn’t.  I felt it was a natural transition and I was excited to be responsible for one less property….and one less mortgage payment.

So why did I find myself suddenly sobbing in the tub that evening………………
One moment I was humming to the music and the next my heart clenched, my breath caught and I felt a wave of sadness rushing through.  I wasn’t sad in the traditional sense.  I didn’t wish I had held onto it and I had no plans to ever move back in.  Instead it was the sorrow of a door closing.  The other side of the same coin as joy.

With the fire energy we began to manifest what it is that we want.  Causing the change that comes with transformation.  With every change there is a natural closing of one door to make room for the opening of another.  And in the heart we experience the emotions that move with both.  Honoring what we leave behind with tenderness and welcoming in the new with infinite love.

Two close friends lost parents this past week.  A different transition, a  life changing event.  Deep grief over the loss of the physical presence, the hugs, the phone conversations and the laughs.  But when there was illness or suffering, also a sense of relief and peace that their spirit is now free and unbounded by this human condition.  The love of everyone coming together to remember and the laughter that comes with those memories.

A few people used the word bittersweet this week.  I looked it up and it means “pleasant but tinged with sadness”.  Or “both pleasant and painful”.  Isn’t that true of most of life’s transitions?  Salty tears of both sorrow and joy pouring from our deepest well.   

And as for my own physical transformation into this third phase of a women’s life – the wise women –  leaving behind now both maiden and mother…..bittersweet.  But just in time for the opening of yet another door – becoming a grandmother in August!

Honoring both sadness and joy with an open heart,

SARAH

Sunday, May 10, 2015

....will what you want

Yogis,
Visualize yourself walking into Starbucks.  Can you feel the calming energy as you enter?  Can you smell the coffee brewing?  Can you taste the beverage you typically get and see the colors of the store?  

How about if you visualize sucking on a slice of lemon. Does your mouth begin to pucker?  What about walking to the end of a high dive and looking down. Or when someone is describing in detail how they sliced their finger with a knife. 

When we visualize our cells respond.  We can taste, smell, hear and feel as if it is right here.  We create a reality.  Our reality.  So once we know what we want, visualization is the first step.   Not just thinking about it…..seeing it. Visualizing for even 5 minutes a day is an extremely powerful practice. 

Then we move toward it.   We “will what we want”. 
This week I came across the new marketing campaign being used by Under Armour. Will what you want.  What exactly does that mean?  I will what I want.  Will it to happen. Will it to manifest. How does it feel when you say that to yourself?  How does one “will” something.

It doesn’t imply the typical way we are told to make things happen…..grit, struggle, hard work, breaking down barriers, passing others and long grueling hours.  In fact it isn’t a physical action at all.  It is energetic. It comes from within. To me it is the same as the “I can” energy.  I CAN.

Close your eyes and say “I can’t”  and feel that.  A standstill.  Heavy.  Not a lot going to happen there.  Now close your eyes, spread open the front of the body and say “I can!”.   I can create anything that I want.  Anything!  That “I can” energy is confident and oh so powerful, yet humble, patient and relaxed.  When it happens upon obstacles it learns from them.  When we stumble it picks us back up because we know in our gut that we can.  It is our internal guiding light. A steady flame.

I can do a handstand in the middle of the room.  I can walk with Phoebe anywhere that I choose.   I can write a book. I can heal myself.  I can expand my Serenity Circle services. I can lead my life with joy.  I CAN and I WILL!

So what is it that you want?  ........and will you?

Moving forward with relaxed, unwavering, soft strength,
SARAH

Sunday, May 3, 2015

....i have a vision

Yogis,
I am right here.  Present, aware and grounded.  I feel…..and I want.  Earth and Water. 

Next stop on the journey…..fire.  Where we begin to create, by taking desires and transforming them into reality.  First step - seeing clearly what I want. Everything begins with a vision.
  
This weekend my youngest son graduated from college.  Young, educated and boundless.  Memories were pouring in of my own walk to the stage so many years ago.  All of the exams, papers and parties behind me as I stepped into this new undefined open space.  Everyone asking……..What’s next?   What type of job are you looking for?  What are you going to do with your life?   I, much like my son, really didn’t know.  Anything was possible but the “wants” weren't clearly shaped.

But isn’t it evident what we want after spending tens of thousands of dollars on schooling?  A good paying job, right?  Success.  Putting the new found skills to the test.  Or maybe something as simple as finding any company that will take me?  Yes, all worthwhile and important but only if my life once I have created them is fulfilling.  Has meaning.

The keynote speaker for yesterday’s ceremony was the owner of an extremely successful deli/restaurant near the university that has become a must visit area attraction and has grown into a group of companies known not only for its mouthwatering Reuben sandwich, but also its philanthropy.  He spoke of that clear canvas in front of the graduates on which they can create whatever it is that they want, and asked what was on their list.  But then he also asked them if joy was on that list.  And if so, was it at the top.  Joy.  Quite a different vision than we had  heard in the preceding speeches.   

Whatever it is that we want can be manifested by first creating the vision.  Seeing it clearly as if it is already here and walking forward in life with that image always projected on our life screen.  This natural law of the Universe works not only for financial success, jobs, promotions and new cars, but equally well for something as inherently beautiful as a life filled with joy. 

Isn’t that what we are all searching for when we dig deep?  Aren’t many of the wants we have only a means to feeling the bliss of being happy?  As humans we easily forgot that true lasting joy is not something that can come for the outside.  But his words were a reminder.  The joy already in us can be called forth at any time.  So why not go for the gusto!  If joy is what we want let’s create that vision and walk toward it.  No longer waiting for it to come to us via material rewards or the recognition from others. 

Was joy on my list when I graduated?  Was it on yours?  As the speaker pointed out… joy is an incredible high, it is natural and legal.    A great reminder for me and my hope for my son was that he too was hearing that joy should lead him in this new phase of his life. 

I believe he may be headed in the right direction as he decided to remain in Michigan for a little while waiting tables.  He wants to soak in the warmth of the bustling summer life which the frigid school year only provides small glimpses of.  He wants to pause in joy.  The corporate world can wait a month or two…..

I “see” joy,

SARAH

Sunday, April 26, 2015

....a wish and a want

Yogis,

The more I get out of my head and into my body…..the more I feel.   The more I feel……the more I sense the stirrings of what I want. 

We all have wants.  We all wish for things.

I wish I could lose these last ten pounds……I wish I had more time for me……I wish I could sleep better at night…….I wish this hamstring injury would heal…….I wish I could do a handstand……I wish I could pursue my love of drawing…..I wish I could make a career out of my passion…..I wish…..
Wishes are like the dandelion seeds carried by the breeze when we blow.  Light and airy, and typically not grounded.  A little too fluffy.  When you wish for something, do you expect it to happen?  Is a wish followed by effort, or just a hopeful waiting? Do you even believe in your heart that what you are wishing for is possible? Do you even remember what you wished for? Feel the energy when you say “ I wish….” And fill in the blank.  There is no oomph.  No juice.  No ownership.

Now a true “want” on the other hand comes from deep within.  It isn’t fleeting and it doesn’t fade.  It is the soul’s desire to move forward.  Our spirit’s way of letting us know that we are capable of more. That we ARE more.  Wants are good!!   I WANT.  This type is not the least bit self-centered or egotistical and has deep roots.

So how can we differentiate between the two?   It’s quite simple. 

When we feel a want…a longing…a deep desire – we are willing to change for it.  To transform.  To create something new.  If not, it merely remains a wish.

I wish I didn’t have allergies (as I do nothing new, begin to believe I need allergy shots, and complain about them to anyone who will listen).  I want to be free of allergies so I can fully enjoy the spectacular beauty of spring with all of my senses (as I drink my stinging nettle and use my netti pot daily).

Neither is right or wrong….just notice.  Hold up the mirror.

So what is it that I want?  Sit quietly, close your eyes, slow the breath and soften the pelvic floor so you can awaken feeling.  What is it that I want?   Let it rise from below. Not a thought but an inner longing. 

…..and are you willing to change for it?   

I have a small metal block in my bathroom with the saying – “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail.”   A perfect question to guide you on this portion of the path.

Next week we move up to fire. Our power of transformation. 

I know that I am even more,

SARAH

Sunday, April 19, 2015

...I am what I feel

Yogis,
For the last two weeks we let go to the downward pull of the earth’s energy.  Slowing down, grounding and reclaiming our natural state of inner peace.  Choosing calm.

What you find when you slow way down is that you notice more.  Awareness becomes keen and everything is clearer. What you want becomes more evident. You know what I found when I slowed down?   That….

I want to feel it all

Water.  That life giving force that transformed my back yard from a brown barren wasteland to a green oasis with just one good soaking rain. Moisturizing and loosening the earth so life could burst forth.  In us the water energy is our aliveness….our juiciness.  What makes us feel.   And…..

I want to feel it all

Our water energy.  Movement.  Moisture.  Malleable.

To me water is that wildness that often seems just out of reach in my corporate, suburban life.  Not the definition of wild that our culture has incorrectly sold us….the one of “Girls gone wild”, partying, that image of out of control, sloppy and taken advantage of.  No.  The wildness of being fully in my  body and experiencing everything that this humanness offers up.  Connected to the earth and its ways.  The sensations of rolling in the sand, running in the early morning rain, soaking in a tub with salts and rose petals and dancing alone naked in the candle light.  Being awakened by the hoot of the owl and feeling the pure rush of adrenaline when lightning strikes the earth below my feet .  The awe of a fresh rainbow or a pink sky at night.  Hugging another so tightly that our two hearts meld into one. 

Sensual.  Creative.  Flowing.

In a world that has become somewhat “uptight”, I want to be loose, flexible and open to receive.  Where academics are held in the highest regard so even the existence of recess is being threatened, I want to run with the wolves.  Does it even matter how much I know and what I learned if I can’t reach in to touch my deepest longings? I want to lean into the caress of the wind and hear its wisdom. I am not my thoughts. I am not what I know.  I am what I feel.  

Water.  Wet.  Wanting. Wonderful.

Mmmmmmmm…………………………

I can feel you,
SARAH

Sunday, April 12, 2015

......choosing to exhale

Yogis,
Here I sit once again.  Back in my rock circle.  Sun warming my back, birds singing and squirrels searching the piles of fallen leaves for any hidden treasures.  Outside.  It feels soooo good.  I have missed this!  Earth.

These last couple of weeks I became ungrounded. I lost my connection.   It is bid season for public sector customers, and I do the pricing for bids.   It happens to all of us.  Those days, weeks or sometimes even years where life becomes a bit of a blur.  Each thing we do simply leading to the next thing we are going to do.   Always “on the way”.  Alarm goes off, into the shower, dressed and heading for work, meetings back to back, a bite to eat at the desk, a conference call, driving home, stopping at the store, cooking dinner, personal emails cleared, bills paid and off to bed.  Only to do it all over again….  Do you ever feel like that?  

It’s ok, I will relax on the weekend.  I can’t wait for that vacation next month when I can slow down!  In five more years I will be able to retire and THEN I will have time for me. 

But what about now?  What about right here, right now?  What about this moment?
I am not willing to give away 5 out of 7 days.  Or the 9 hours that I work out of the mere 16 that I am awake.  I don’t want to wait for a vacation to relax.  I want to feel connected and aware and at peace every single moment………..Is that possible?

I believe it is.  It is our natural state.  Earth energy is part of our being. But it takes choosing that and practice and patience.  You living life, and not life leading you. 

When I was deciding on a name for my yoga studio I chose Serenity because it means “the state of being calm, at peace and untroubled”.   The state of.  Hhhmmm.  Not “traveling to somewhere calm and peaceful”.  The state of.   The inner world.  Being serene.  No matter what is happening on the outside.  Choosing relaxed and having the rituals that connect me to the energy of earth as a daily priority.  

Sitting on my rocks.  Stopping during my work day to walk Phoebe for 5 minutes.  Pausing to notice my breath.  Doing my yoga practice at lunch time.  Taking off my shoes once the weather changes.  Drinking my stinging nettle.  Taking big, slow, long, conscious exhales to drain everything out……  Trust me - your company and family will not collapse if you take these little breaks.  In fact after them, you are more settled, kinder and focused.   

Bid season comes regardless.  How I choose to live in it is my choice.   And I am choosing calm. I am choosing to exhale.  I am choosing relaxed, because it feels so incredibly better than the alternative. 

So the next time you are in that “haze” of life (traffic jam, angry client, line at the store), remember this email (earth is our past), stop suddenly to observe, feel your feet on the ground, take two slow breaths, look around at the beauty that surrounds you, and step back in relaxed and serene.  Over and over and over……………..

The trees seem to have this concept down pat,

SARAH