Sunday, October 26, 2014

...riding the waves of emotion

Yogis,
For the past two weeks we have been working with Svadisthana, the water chakra.  The energy of water is our movement, our moisture, our flow.

My message was that life comes to us in waves.  Things, people and events flow toward us……and then flow away.  Sometimes over long stretches of time and sometimes in the blink of any eye.  But the flow of anything in one direction is certain to shift the other way.  Life and all it contains is in constant movement.  Expansion and contraction.   Impermanent.  The flow.

When that which we like flows in bringing us comfort and pleasure, we attach.  So its inevitable movement away causes us to suffer.  Likewise, when that which we don’t want comes our way we often struggle against it, which is like trying to hold back a wave……a useless endeavor…..and again we struggle.

We work with the water energy to learn to ride the waves – lying back on a raft, feet up, letting life be exactly as it is at the moment and feeling it deeply.  Trusting that everything is as it should be.

 

Little did I know I was teaching myself.

Thursday started normally.  A run with Franklin, meditation and a shower.  But then life took a turn.  Franklin bit someone that had come to the house.  That moment, vivid in my memory moved in slow motion.  My smile turned to fear and then to tears in a matter of minutes.  A wave had arrived.

The next few hours are a blur.  Them off to the hospital for shots, phone conversations with the adoption coordinator and my vet who had just met Franklin the day before, and calls to my family as I was all alone……all done while sobbing.   Options were provided.  He could be put on Prozac, we could do blood work to see if there is an underlying illness causing him discomfort, he may need to be quarantined, we could bring in a trainer, and on and on and on. 

My mind started to get involved.  “You can’t give him up.  You adopted and committed to help him.”  Self-judgment.  “How will I tell everyone?  What will they think?  I am not strong enough”   Making a plan.  “I can have a trainer come to the house.  I can make this work.”  Guilt.   I wanted so badly for someone to TELL me what to do.  I yearned for a way not to have to make this decision alone.  I felt hollow.

It took 4 hours of emptying through tears to be able to see within with clarity.  I had known the second it happened that I could not keep him.  Yet it took all of that time for me to allow that inner knowing to bubble up to the heart and to have it still the mind enough to give me the inner strength to say the words.  To make it real.  And then I actually had to do it.

In classes I had been saying – When you are sad…..feel sad.  Well on Thursday I did and still do. Deep emotion.  Tears are coming much further apart now, but when they do I am letting them flow.  Water is for healing.

This was the right decision for both me and Franklin.  I have a home where all are welcome and Franklin was simply not ready for that.   Now that we know more about him the rescue group will find a family that can provide what he needs.  And in time the dog that is meant to be my partner will arrive.

I think I need another tissue,

SARAH

Sunday, October 19, 2014

....a new boy in town

Yogis,

One year, four months and four days after losing my yoga assistant, partner in crime, canine soul mate and breath guide, Molly, I have ventured into a new relationship with Franklin………….



Last Sunday morning I woke up free as a bird.  No kids, no pets.  My time my own as I lounged in bed and watched the sky.   A mere 4 hours later after attending a lab rescue adoption event I was once again being stared at as “mom”.  Franklin has lived in at least three or four homes/settings since his birth only 5 years ago.  Today marks our first week of settling in and getting to know each other.  Amazing how much change there is when one new personality enters into your life – especially an 85 lb one.  And where there is change, you can always look for growth and new learnings.  I have already had several………………….

Franklin has many wonderful qualities.  He walks well on a leash, sleeps through the night like a champ, gives great kisses (I just got one in fact, right on the face), has a sweet temperament and good breath.   On the other hand, as he has gotten more comfortable he has shown some a little less endearing ……….picking up his water bowl when it is half full and pouring it out,  small anxiety episodes and barking ferociously when anyone walks in or comes to the door – this in a house where no less than 50 people come in each week, typically without knocking.  Oh my. 

I found myself saying several times that Franklin  has the potential to be a great dog, but then caught myself.   He IS a great dog.   He simply has some challenges he needs to work through.  No different than any of us.  Franklin, just like each of us, is perfect.  Life with its ups and downs has just piled on some layers.   But with patience and a lot of love, the perfection that I see when I look into his eyes will shine brighter and brighter.  If only it was that easy to see the perfection in each other as we move through life.  That recognition that the one we are looking at, like Franklin, when we can see beneath life’s layers, IS great.   

We just finished working in class with the energy of earth.  Earth energy relates to our sense of being safe.  That everything is OK.  Feeling grounded and nurtured.  It is our childhood and our past.  Our history.  When we lose our connection with earth energy we are anxious.  Fear and anxiety are symptoms.   As I watched Franklin last night during an anxiety episode I realized that many of the symptoms I was witnessing, which I was concerned about during the week, will most likely fade away over time as he senses that he is now safe.  That his basic needs will be met and that he can count on us as his foundation.  His tribe.  Once again it is no different with us.  A sense of belonging, either to our biological family or our spiritual family or to the Universe at large, brings us comfort and peace.  Trusting without a doubt that the Universe will always provide for our basic needs allows us to relax.  And when we do……the outward symptoms gently fade away. 

Everyone has of course asked about Franklin’s past.  I know about his last 4 months, but everything beyond that is vague.  This week I thought I should ask more questions to find out why I was seeing some of his behaviors.  What caused them?  Where did they come from?   That I should know more about his history.  But again I caught myself. 

So many people have said how lucky Franklin is to be joining my family.  That everything will be good for him now and all will work out.  As if this present moment can somehow erase his first five years of life.  And you know what?   They are right!  I don’t need to know his history, just as I don’t need to know yours.  He doesn’t need a therapist to work through whatever he has experienced in the past.  The past no longer exists.  What he needs is to feel loved, trusted and held in this moment.  Once more….same thing for us.   Every moment is brand new and a chance for change in whatever direction we, or he, choose to take.  Only we can let the past hold us…..or let it go with a long slow exhale.

Why is it so much easier to see all of this in an animal than in myself?  I think it is because they are simpler.  They don’t overthink everything,  blame their parents, or hold a grudge.   They are transparent with their feelings and don’t hold back.    And they aren’t us.  Yet they are such wonderful teachers. 

Yes he is lucky to have me……but I am equally, if not more, lucky to have him.  There are no coincidences.  Thank you Universe!



Lots of exhales for Franklin,
SARAH

Sunday, October 12, 2014

...so don't worry about me

Yogis,
I was asked to tell last week’s story on worry and compassion from Betty’s perspective.  So I have asked her to share her thoughts with all of you:

Hello, Betty here!  I understand you all know about my surgery.  Honestly I have been very hesitant to let people know what I am going through because I don’t want everyone worrying about me.  Worry is a heavy load to carry and mine alone feels like ton of bricks without piling on everyone else’s. 

But it’s deeper than that.  I want to live my life.  I don’t want every conversation to begin with my latest test results and even worse I don’t want that look you have in your eyes when you worry.  You know the one I mean.  It makes the air between us thicker, when all I want to do is talk about the wedding we are going to or sit together in the garden listening for the owl.  When I walk into the neighborhood store I don’t want to be viewed as the ill one and hear the hushed whispers.  I would rather you come over and invite me to the next goddess gathering. 

It isn’t your fault.  Worry, although we tend to link it to the other person, is deep down the fear that it will happen to us.  Whatever “it” is.  Compassion on the other hand is you hugging me with your light, love and healing energy.  All things I can use a lot of right now! 

Also, not worrying in no way translates to not doing.  Or not helping.  The meals that my friends have delivered have been a godsend.  The unexpected flowers on my doorstep, recommendations for good books, and the play dates for my girls all touch me deeply.  It has almost made this fun.  Worry and doing are entirely different and distinct energies.
 
But someone asked me how I am working with my own worry.  My anxiety over the future which is still unwritten.  More challenging than shifting away from worry about another…..because I am always here.  Can’t get away from myself!  Unfortunately no “out of sight, out of mind” for this situation. 

But in reality is it that different?

First I watch for those telltale signs that worry is creeping in.  I notice.  Everything around me becoming dull and distant while what’s in my mind becomes sharper.  I notice how my body begins to tense and I hear the stories my mind begins to spin.  Then I turn to my tools….
  • Breath.  My anchor.  I shift awareness inward and begin to watch the rise and fall of the breath.  Always there.  Always centered.  The breath is the quickest way to bring me back to the present moment.
  • Noticing this moment.  Turning on my senses to hear, see, smell and feel what is happening right now.  Here.  And what I have noticed is that in almost all cases, this moment is fine.  Worry tends to be about some unknown future moment.  But in this one – I am OK.  I like that.
  • Tuning in to my natural state.  I am not ill.  I am healthy and whole.  My body is simply experiencing an illness.  But the illness is not me.  "I" am healthy and whole.  I close my eyes and feel that.  I begin to vibrate at that frequency.  Visualizing myself with complete health.
I am discovering that illness is a teacher, and I want to learn what it has to show me.  When all is fine I can be outward focused, but right now my journey is within.

It is a practice.  I do it over, and over, and over.  Not allowing my present moments to be darkened with worry because I……just like you and everyone else….don’t know for sure how many I will have, and I don’t want to miss out on even one!

What we think is what we become,

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I am not worried about you

Yogis,

I have written about worry many times.   However it keeps coming back to me as something that can use consistent awareness since it seems to hold so many in its grip.   It is a powerful energy and while it’s easy to say “I’m not going to worry” it’s not as easy to do. 

Recently I have had some people close to me going through health challenges.  Illnesses, surgeries and hospital stays.   So over these last couple of weeks I have had some new insights on both worry and its counterpart – compassion. 


First let’s start with worry. 
·         Worry happens in the mind
·         It’s energy is one of contraction – it narrows and focuses the topic at hand
·         The more attention it is given the more it ramps up, spiraling from one point to the next and to the next
·         The rest of the body becomes rigid and breathing becomes shallow
·         It does not feel good
·         Sometimes it seems that the only way to avoid it is to stay very busy.  Distracted. 
·         We often feel it is our duty, our obligation to those we love to worry about them

Worry is a projection of the future, very rarely with a positive outcome.  It is our way of imagining  the myriad of things that could possibly go wrong.  Often it runs in loops projecting the same images over and over and over.   No direction.  No true purpose.  Worry never changes the outcome, yet causes us to lose our sense of peace in the present.

Compassion. 
·         Happens in the heart
·         An energy of amazing expansion –  boundless and free
·         The more attention it is given the more strength it gathers causing you to shine brighter
·         The rest of the body becomes light and spacious and breathing becomes full
·         It feels wonderful
·         Once it is found we want to embrace it and remain in its company (although it may cause tears as we truly touch others suffering)
·         We haven’t all been taught the difference to be able to choose compassion over worry

Compassion is focused in the present.  Its direction is clear.  It has a pure purpose.  Compassion, I believe, can indeed have a positive effect on the outcome – even if it is merely the other feeling held and loved by our energy.  Compassion equals connection.

Worry is fear based.  Compassion is love based.  

So let’s imagine a scenario.  Say I have a cousin named Betty who is going through a major surgery. 

Option #1:
I worry.  I tell everyone I am worried.  I find friends who will discuss our combined worry.   I google all of the things than can go wrong.  I think through all of the possibilities – her not making it through; what will happen to the kids; they will grow up with no mom;  Or maybe she will make it through but not have her health.  I pace.  I go to bed and wake up in the middle of the night.  Here is where worry LOVES to party.  The stories get worse.  I can’t sleep.  I feel nauseous.  Now the next day while the surgery is going on I am exhausted from no sleep.  I keep very busy so I can calm the worry.   Only when I get the call that everything is ok do I take my first full breath and let me body relax. 

Option #2:
That evening I work with imagining Betty at her healthiest and drawing that feeling of her toward me so we are together.  I breathe with her.  I smile at her.  I begin to notice my heart and with each inhale I send her love.  The heart keeps opening wider and wider until I feel as if love is rushing out of me directly into her.   I do this one more time before going to sleep and visualize her leaving the hospital healed.   I sleep soundly.  In the morning I am fully rested and can hold her in my presence with love and compassion during her surgery.  Breathing fully together.  When the phone rings I know that no matter what I hear, I supported and held her throughout.

And if you were Betty, which one would you want from your family and friends?

This week begin to notice your worry triggers.  Feel the energy of worry and give it words.  Describe it to yourself.  Catch yourself at it.  Smile at it. 

…….and then drop your awareness down into the heart. 
Please don’t worry about me,
SARAH

Sunday, September 28, 2014

the shape of things to come

Yogis,

Many years ago I participated in a 2 day sales manager training where we were given one of those personality tests which provides you with a synopsis of your management style, how you approach tasks, your challenges and opportunities – all centered around what “shape” you were.  I was a circle.  I was the only circle.

It seems silly but I remember being slightly embarrassed that I was a circle.   Almost everyone else on the team was  a triangle.  Certainly a stronger more fitting shape for leading a sales organization.  The description of a triangle manager was one of forward motion, leading the troops, thriving on conflict and driving toward results.   A circle was more about inclusiveness, harmony and helping others feel good.   Hhhhhmmmmm……. At the time I felt exposed.  The truth was coming out.

We were each given a small wooden block in our shape to keep.  Mine was blue and sat on my desk as a reminder. 



I spent my years in direct sales and management trying to figure out where the circle fit in.  I remember when the movie “Babe” came out, about the pig (wonderful movie if you haven’t seen it) and thinking – YES!  That is my management style!  But did the ability of a pig to herd sheep simply by being nice translate into hitting a 30 day sales outlook?

Fast forward 17 years and the circle is my symbol for life.  I always was a circle but now I am clear enough on who I am to thrive in its power without trying to shape shift.  Who was I kidding?  I could never fit my circle shape into a triangle…nor does my life purpose fit there.  Thank goodness there are all of the other shapes who can take on those vital roles. 

The circle is a spiritual shape depicting the cycles of life.  No beginning and no end.  No leader and no hierarchy.  Whole.  Unity.  No corners in which to hide.  The circle has incredible potential, and I got to experience it three times in the last couple of weeks. 

First with my Goddess campout.  After sunset we all made our way out to the firepit.  As we sat in a circle together late into the night I noticed that although we are all equal in the circle, we each have a role that we naturally gravitate to– the fire starter, the fire tender, the story teller, the listener and the one who questions.  Each unique, each a different shape, but weaving together to create a whole.  Unity.

Our meditation group held our latest gathering around the fire.  We always meet in the shape of a circle but when you place the shape out under the night sky it begins to glow.  A container for all that we open to give. Everything staying within.  Safe.

And finally this past week a good friend invited 10 women over on the night before her surgery.  Many of us didn’t know each other but within moments of sitting together in a circle around a fire the sharing became intimate. Laughter and sorrow.   We had all been drawn there, not by something that needed to get done nor to show others who we were, but solely by love.  Love for our friend was the glue that drew our circle. Every heart facing inward.

The womb.  The sun.  My medicine wheel garden. The earth.  The seasons.  Life.

The circle.

Round and round I go,
SARAH

Sunday, September 21, 2014

dancing to autumn's song

Yogis,

It’s official.  Fall is here.  The calendar clearly notes the transition, but we don’t need a calendar to feel it.  It’s been coming and showing us its signs for some time.

As we finish dinner it is now dark outside.  The melody of the summer birds has been replaced with the caw of the crows and blackbirds.  The hum of the cicadas, although still present, has been harmonized with a new note as the crickets have joined the chorus.  The squirrels mouths stained by the black walnuts give them a cartoonish look.   Leaves are tinged with color, the gusts of wind hint at the cool air to come and the lush carpet of grass has become a minefield of acorns under my bare feet.  Oh…….and of course, football.

Fall.  The last of the seasons.  A time of endings. 
 
We are now up to Day 21 of “A September to Remember”, a program I have offered via email this month with a community of 50.  I chose to do this to guide me to live each day of September exactly as it is.  To bring more focus and awareness to this time of transition in the hopes of helping me deepen my acceptance of a season in which I tend to struggle. 

As the Universe typically does, at the right moment it brought a book to me that I am know reading named “Energy Medicine” by Donna Eden.  This week I flipped to a back section to see what I would find, and what I turned to was a writing on autumn (thank you Universe!).   Similar to my path and teachings on the 5 elements, this section was devoted to the 5 Rhythms, a Chinese system which describes our world as “passing from season to season in a natural unending season of life.”  That our individual energies are most closely tied to one of the elements/seasons or sometimes a combination. There are the 4 seasons we know and a 5th that is the late/Indian summer time of transition.

Autumn.   Endings.   Here is what Eden says about the energy of fall: 

Autumn’s rhythm embodies the peace of completion.  The meaning found in attainment and the faith that dying to the old makes way for the new.  This rhythm garners the meaning of a cycle coming to an end allowing us to evaluate what was and was not useful, eliminating all that was not valuable.  An urge toward perfection, autumn people see what needs to happen, are concerned with the higher good and are inspiring to others.  As the last season, autumn carries a sadness and those who vibrate here carry a sympathy for the world’s grief.  From this affinity with sadness grows kindness and honesty.  They have an urgency to find meaning and serenity in what has been, for theirs is the final cycle.  The season of dying.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross notes that that the best way to prepare for our own eventual dying is to consciously meet these “little deaths” throughout life.  Each autumn is an opportunity to view the lessons of a cycle that is ending.  Each autumn trains you for all of the autumns yet to come. 

Autumn.  The waning moon.  The sunset.  Old age.  All endings.

Rather than depress me, this offers me a clearer view into the soul of the season.  It provides meaning to the sadness I feel as the days shorten and the nights grow colder.  As a summer I live for the peaks, the coming down a challenge for me.  But as I move through the new opportunity that this fall offers, with each moment different than any other I have every had….I plan to try to find the dance to its rhythm. 

Falling for fall,

SARAH

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