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

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