Sunday, January 25, 2015

positioning the satellite dish

Yogis,

If you haven’t yet (or care to again), please visit my article on Elephant Journal!  2000 views will move it to a featured article.  http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/01/one-way-we-can-take-the-pain-out-of-suffering/

As beings of energy, our third eye center is like the electrical outlet.  Our fuse box.  Where we plug into the energy of the universe.  Making the connection. 

So if the third eye is the plug, the crown of the head is the receiver.  Our satellite dish through which we can receive the infinite, ever flowing  guidance and grace from above……and below, and around and beyond.  

But we must be open to receive. 
I am going to walk you through a visual to explain this better.  Imagine an empty paper towel roll.  You can look through one end and see out the other.  You can blow into it and your breath will pass though.  Water can be poured into the top and it will rush out the bottom.  There are no obstacles. The tube is clear, free from barriers.  It is empty.

But is it?  If you look at what is inside the towel roll – the air, the space, the light – is it any different than what is on the outside?    The roll itself, like our physical body, is not a boundary.  What is on the outside is merely a reflection of what is on the outside.  Life flowing through its center while it flows through life. 

Now imagine that you take a sheet of paper towel and crumple it into a ball and stuff it in the top of the roll.  No longer can the light, breath, air, and wind pass through, no matter how hard you try. This ball of paper towel is your busy mind.  Energy pouring in from above (always) but immediately hitting a roadblock.  Like rain hitting a tin roof.  It isn’t that the rain isn’t pouring from the sky, it just isn’t being allowed in.   

Visualize now that paper towel roll inside your body running in front of the spine from the tailbone up to the crown of the head, with the energy line that I always speak to, running directly through its center.   Ask the mind muscles to relax.  A softening.  Not a stopping of thoughts but a gentleness that allows for space between them.  Kind of like the difference between a few goldfish swimming back and forth in their bowl vs the Washington beltway gridlock during a Friday rush hour.  One simple way to do this is to bring your awareness to this moment. 

Finally we open the crown of the head…. a flower bud coming into full bloom. And just like the satellite dish, positioning it energetically to receive a clear signal.  Steady.  Away from life’s distractions that can cause static.  Waiting patiently for guidance without expectation.  Guidance will come.  It always does.  Signs appear in our path.  We suddenly know what to do.  Wisdom visits.

Eventually with practice, faith and trust you can begin to lead life this way.  Less thinking and more feeling.  Ask, open to receive, listen, hear and move.  The breath as the faithful broom to sweep away any inner build up.   Empty so all of the wonder this life offers can pass through. 

No separation between the inner and outer worlds,
SARAH

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My article was published!

Yogis,

My most recent article was just published on Elephant Journal!

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/01/one-way-we-can-take-the-pain-out-of-suffering/



If you can find a moment to visit it there, I would be very grateful!

Sending me out,
SARAH

Sunday, January 18, 2015

....we all suffer

Yogis,

We all suffer.  The nature of a human being is to suffer.  We suffer physically, mentally and emotionally.     We all suffer……..  This is one of the basic tenets of Buddhism.

Suffering comes in many forms.  When we have pleasure or joy we attach to what we believe to be the cause of those feelings and then of course we suffer when they are no longer there.   The job title that provided a sense of worth, a beautiful home, a lover,  that perfect vacation or even our own mortality.   Those things in the outside world which bring us joy but ultimately are the source of our suffering,  as nothing external is permanent.  The wrinkles under the eyes are a reminder.

On the flip side we have those things that we resist and struggle against.  Illness, challenges, change, pain.  By the very act of resisting them, we suffer.   Trying to hold back life with only the strength of our arms.  Believing we have the power to select which of life’s events we want to visit us and which we can wave away. 
 Ok, so we all suffer.  I hear that.  I read it.  I reflect on it…….but somehow I have a hard time believing it.  I often think I am alone in the struggling department.

I look around and everyone else appears free from suffering.  I see smiles and hear the stories of all of the good things going on in their lives.  I check Facebook and all of my “friends” are getting hundreds of likes and being told how beautiful they are day after day.   But I guess from the outside my life must look to others as free from suffering too.   Maybe we are all skilled at hiding it behind the mask?  Creating the image of a perfect life.  Or is something wrong with me? 

When we begin a meditation practice and turn our gaze inward on a daily basis, it is the suffering that we notice first.  The sadness, disappointment, longings and the anger at what isn’t fair.   All there waving at us and asking for attention, probably because we have kept them buried in the dark corners and wished them away.     

But as our practice progresses and we sit with our suffering and embrace it on a daily basis, it ever so slowly begins to soften.   There is a gentle shift as we start to see that the suffering is not “me”.   A pain, a sorrow, a love, a touch, a feeling.  They are all there but they are not me.  They are what they are.  Each a wave passing through.  Each impermanent.   It is then that we begin to get glimpses into our true underlying nature.  Joy.   Maybe only for an instant at first before the next wave rushes in, but we now know it is there. 

We suffer because we grasp.  Peace is found when we let go.  Watching but not becoming.  Nothing on the outside can make us suffer.  We choose to.  We can choose not to. 

…….at least for today.

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”

Going deeper,
SARAH

Sunday, January 11, 2015

seeing the world upside down

Dear Yogis,

For some reason this week it felt so good to stand on my head.  I go up at least once each time I practice, but typically I arrive, take a few breaths and make my way back to the earth.  But this week was different.  Once I arrived I wanted to linger.  A different view.  A different perspective with my toes touching the sky.  Suddenly being upside down was exactly where I was supposed to be.  Seeing my life from the ground up opened some new awareness.

I glance over at my computer screen which is dark as it takes a much needed nap.  No graphs, spreadsheets or charts.  Black.  But I look once more and I see it.   A reflection in the screen of the woods behind me.  Muted grays, browns and white as the trees hold their ground in the cold.  It all appears so different from this angle.  Serene and steady.

As I walk past the refrigerator I catch a glimpse of myself in its doors.  Seeing me, seeing me.  Oh yes, there you are…. I remember the day I bought it.  Choosing the shiny black one over the more popular stainless steel because it would always reflect the world back to me.  A daily gift.

The side of my foot has been hurting for the last few days as if the skin is rough and irritated.  I assume it is cracked from the cold but can’t quite find a position to stand or sit in which I can get a good look.  It is in one of those perfect spots that is just out of view.    It isn’t until  I walk into my closet which holds my full length mirror that my issue is unveiled to me.  A small slice, red and irritated.  Poor foot.  I go and sit to massage it with coconut oil. 

Winter is the time to slow w a y down.  A chance to reflect on what is right here for you.  Physically – like the cut in my foot which I had just been wishing away.  Emotionally – diving deeper into those uncomfortable sensations and bringing them into the light.  Spiritually – visualizing the seeds you plan to sow in your inner garden come spring. 

I noticed in my meditation this morning my mind was like a still lake, reflecting back to me.  Calm and waiting.  None of it’s usual mental gymnastics perhaps due to my “not-doingness” this weekend.    But did I really do nothing?  Look again.  Look deeper.  Look into the reflection.

I had walked in the biting cold and allowed myself to feel the rush of aliveness that flew in.  Allowing the cold to show me what she’s got instead of my usual jaw clenching, body contraction and mind resistance.  Relaxing with an exhale.   Bring it on and let me feel you.  Clear and crisp were the words that kept coming.

I sat on the couch cuddled with my new fur lined fleece blanket (which Phoebe absolutely wants to share with me), in front of a crackling fire while I ate soup I had made.  The zest of the lemon such a welcome counterbalance to the earthy lentils and potatoes.   And today as I stood in the front yard bathing my face in the sun, some greenery peeking from beneath the snow pack caught my eye.    I brushed the snow away to uncover the Lenten Rose seedlings I had planted last summer… tripled in size and looking so very happy. 

To an observer I am doing nothing.  That’s ok.  I am seeing that life reflects back to me the most when I am simply “being”. 

Open to receive,

SARAH

Sunday, January 4, 2015

so you say you want to get to know me

Yogis,
Hi!  Welcome to Banana Republic.  Would you like a bag to use while you shop?

The holiday shopping had only begun and I could already sense the energy of it.  I have never been a big fan of store greeters.  Seems a bit too sugary and demands my attention when all I want to do is get in and get out.  I used to find pleasure in an occasional shopping trip but that fizzled years ago.  Now I have become a little more male in my shopping – a hunter.   The greeters are obstacles. 

Did you find everything you were looking for?  ……  if I say no and explain that they never have enough size smalls, will they listen?  Will they care?  Or will they just nod their head ……. Yes I did thanks.

Can I have your email address?  No thanks.  Do you need a bag? Do you have another ID?  Would you like to open a Banana Republic card and save 20%?  Any cash back?   Questions…questions...questions.



Hi!  Welcome to Under Armour.   

Did you find everything ok?  Receipt printed or emailed to save our planet (or something to that effect)?  I hear those around me spouting their email addresses in order to be green.  Does anyone, I mean anyone, truly believe that the email address will only be used for the receipt and not to send you a new email every single day, every day of the year for the rest of your life?  Yes please send me emails as I don’t seem to get enough!

Hi! Welcome to J Crew.   This is exhausting and I have only bought 5 gifts so far.  Can I have your name?   Wow!  Now that was a new one.  I pause.  I am only buying a $12 pair of panties that promise no lines and you want to know my name?  That seems a little too intimate.  Uh, no.

But it doesn’t stop with the human questions.  Whenever I swipe my card to pay for even groceries, a small machine asks no less than 5 or 6 questions, while those behind me in line shift from one hip to the other.  And just as I think I am done and turn to put the bags in the cart, the checker points to the screen and asks if I want to donate $1 to St. Judes.   Everyone watches as I say no.  Ugh. 

Do you want a car wash?  What is your zip code?  Are you a “member”?  What is your pin?  Did you take a shower today? …..that one I made up but I feel it coming. 

Know your customer.  Isn’t that the mantra for retail?  So they gather data.  Statistics to help them sell more.  I think Amazon even knows what time I go to bed.    Questions….questions…questions to learn who I am.  To sum me up, to predict my next step.

But they (by the way there is no “they”, but that is for another writing) will never know “me”.    They will learn all they can about Sarah but “I”  have no statistics.  “I” actually need nothing.   “I” am just the observer to  this new trend in shopping.    “I” cannot be labeled or placed on a graph.  “I” am centered and unchanging. 

The only way to know “me” is to look deep into my eyes and see my soul.  Hold my hand for a while, or hug me so close you can  feel my heartbeat.  Sit and lean against me.  The questions are outside noise.  It is in the silence that you will hear me.

A man in front of me in line the other day looked at the checker as she finished ringing and said “yes, yes, yes”.  She looked confused so he explained.  Yes I need a bag, yes I want a receipt and yes I am a member”.  He has noticed too.  I smiled. 

Going within to be with me,

SARAH

Sunday, December 28, 2014

preparing the soil

Yogis,
Reminder:  Only class this week is tomorrow, Monday morning, 5:25 am.  Maybe you should come!

Tuesday evening I was sucked into the Christmas vortex.  There, 12 of us (plus two dogs) swirled together for four days.  All of us connected by joy, music, wine, games, cookies, gifts and lots of love. 

Today I am crawling out the other end.  Rubbing my eyes and blinking from the bright light, recognizing everyday life that was here patiently waiting for my return.    I mindfully wipe the crumbs from the counters and sweep the floors, clearing away what remains of the holidays and
the year we named 2014.  It is all behind me now.  And what lies ahead is clear and empty.

What life seeds should I plant?


One of my intentions over the past 3 or 4 years has been to embrace winter.  I have visualized, stated, journaled and written on the topic with the vision of living life every day, regardless of the time of year, as it should be lived.    And I can truly say that for the first time ever I am actually excited for January and February!!

For me, winter does not begin on December 21st, but instead during the week after Christmas when I pull out the new calendars with nothing yet written on them.  January and February staring back at me wondering if my pen is going to fill up their daily squares.   But only a few words are entered with mostly blank space remaining.  This year I feel a sense of relief.  Open space.  Time for me.  Days without “doing” so I can have the room to “be”.   

As creative beings, we design and orchestrate our lives.   But the required first step is getting still and quiet enough to notice where we are and see the unlimited potential in front of us.  The infinite choices we have.   Limitless potential.  This is winter’s purpose.   It is not meant to be rushed. 

So what life seeds do I want to plant? 

I leap into thinking about what I want for 2105…….but the energy of winter is located way down near the tailbone, far from the brain.    Winter asks us to relax the mind muscles, sink our awareness inward and connect to the stillness.   Feeling.  What is it that I want.  Preparing the soil for planting.

My inner yearnings are there.  Restless.  Wanting to be heard.  I have felt them stirring but have been too distracted by the outer world to give them my attention.  This now is their season.  Thank goodness for January and February. 

Time to withdraw.  Time for dreaming……………..

Tea, puzzles, journals and comfy blankets,

SARAH

Sunday, December 21, 2014

....inner housekeeping

Dear Yogis,
This week we moved up to Ajna chakra, our third eye center.    Here we turn our gaze away from the bright lights of the fast paced tantalizing outer world and direct it toward the quiet stillness of our inner world.  Seeing what is true.

Today is the winter solstice which marks the beginning of  the season to shine the flashlight inward. Peering into the corners, clearing away any cobwebs,  getting reacquainted with me and stirring things up.

This is where meditation has so much to offer.  The daily practice of taking even 5 or 10 minutes to simply sit and observe what is happening on the inside – noticing your thoughts, feeling any places of holding, becoming aware of both the sadness and the joy, and watching the breath – begins to reveal an inner landscape that connects you to what is real.    Here we see our soul.  Here we find everything we have been longing for…..


But not everything that we see in there is comfortable.  The clearer our inner vision becomes, the more we can’t ignore those shadow parts.  The things we have labeled “wrong”, “bad” or “not allowed” or buried so deep we forgot they were there.    Everything in there parading in front of us asking to be noticed and embraced.

Last week I wrote about Phoebe and the effect her energy was having on my vibration.  I told myself I would reground, get a grip and everything would be fixed.  But the Universe clearly was not buying my act.  Phoebe’s barking and lunging at other dogs and even people on our walks continues and each time my heart races, my stomach clenches and the jitters set in.  It scares me.  Why does she have to be like this?

I finally had to admit that her acts of confrontation were bringing up parts of me that I have never developed.   I hate confrontation.  I do everything in my power to avoid it.  I never want anyone to think I am upset or angry with them and if a conflict develops between me and another, I leave feeling wounded.   I was attaching her behavior in front of others  to me.  What will the neighbors think of her?  What if no one likes her?   They must believe I am a bad owner.  Some of the very thoughts I have had of others.

But the outer world was simply mirroring something needed in my inner world.  First I had Franklin with his aggression (which I know was more than I was able to handle) and now Phoebe.  If something keeps appearing...take note.  Clearly a challenge from the Universe.  A teacher.  A gift. Why?   What is it that I am supposed to learn.

I was relaying all of this to my sister because she is coming for Christmas with……her dog.   And we will all be in the same house for 4 days.  She shared a story of an incredibly laid back woman at her park where the dogs play, that happens to own the most alpha dog in the group.  When this dog demands to lead the pack or behaves in a bossy manner, the woman sits back and allows it.  He doesn’t cause any harm, he is just dominant.  She realizes that is who he is and she is ok with that. She is strong enough in herself to let him be himself.  She isn’t trying to “fix” him.

I can see that I want to fix – and quickly!    If I just do this and this and this….she will do as I want her to do.  And it wasn’t happening on my timeline.  I also see now that I was rushing her.  Not providing her the freedom to take the time she needs to heal and find her own way to peace, with my role only to hold the safe space for that to happen.    Accepting all of the parts of her.

So…..I have work to do.  On me.   As she barks I will smile at those that pass.   I will hug her after every walk no matter how it went.  I will move toward letting her be her and not hold her hostage to being a reflection of me.    My sense is that both of us will grow from this and all will be as it should be.

  Who, me?

Seeing more clearly,
SARAH