Sunday, June 28, 2015

......tuning in to now

Yogis,
You know how when you are trying to find a station on the radio with a dial and the slightest movement in one direction takes you right by it?  You carefully go the other way and fly right past.  A little too far and there is static. Not far enough and it sounds like a tunnel.  It takes that perfect focused turn to land right on it.  Suddenly when you hit on it though, you know.  The voice is crisp and strong and it is clear that you have landed. 

Communication with the Universe is no different……..and for the last couple of months my channel tuning was slightly off.  The messages felt blurred and distant.  It happens to all of us.  Sometimes we are in the flow and then we are not. 

I have been trying to figure out the formula.  What is the key to being connected.  The word that kept coming to me this week is…..NOW.
Now.  Another word for “the present moment” yet different.  Stop and notice now.  How long is now?? 

Certainly not a minute.  Have you watched a clock for a minute?  A minute is an eternity.  Is now a second?  One Mississippi.  No, I think it is much more fleeting than that.  Now is here, and in the blink of an eye another new now has arrived.  NOW. 

NOW has a powerful word structure.  It is a no nonsense word.  It rhymes with POW and WOW.  It puts a stake in the ground.  Later is unknown and before is only a running story trapped in the mind.  Now is right here and can’t be questioned or debated.  And Now is the only time you can Do something.  The only time in fact that you can do anything!  But how many Nows each day are we fully there for?  Where we are completely present and aware.  Typically only a handful. 

These last couple of days however I have been there for more than usual.  Sitting tucked in the brush along the river this wildflower caught my eye and as I took her picture I was in Now.  Only moments later an eagle flew by.  I closed my eyes and thanked the Universe only to reopen them to watch a snake slither by.
Early yesterday as I hurriedly picked my ripe wild raspberries to be sure that I got at least as many as the competing blue jay, something made me slow.   My hands were reaching deep into the bush for the plump ones in the center, the thorns brushing me lightly and my gaze suddenly catching the true beauty of the bush.  I was in NOW.  Moments later there were several coincidences of people coming back into my life.

It hit me in my seemingly eternal car ride Friday night.  NOW is that perfect spot on the dial where the voice is crisp and clear.  NOW is the channel. 

And no lie…..that very moment I passed a billboard on a barn that said in large red, white and blue lettering…….POW!! You are here now!

I burst out laughing.  It is so simple…..yet it isn’t, is it.  It takes a lot of practice. 

Noticing now,
SARAH

Sunday, June 21, 2015

....goats and grief

Yogis,
This week in classes we moved very……very……very…..slowly.  Landing in a pose and being there.  Watching what comes up –reactions, physical pleasure, discomfort, busy mind, boredom or judgment.  Being with whatever is.  Turning on the inner gaze to see things exactly as they are without our usual associated story playing in the background. 

Third eye center.  Our inner gaze.
Three years ago I spent a week in an intensive with Susun Weed.  It was that week that birthed this blog as I had so much to share.  In my first post, http://aspaforthesoul.blogspot.com/2012/08/weed-www.html, I tried to provide a small glimpse into her passion and teachings….many of which centered around her goats.  They determined the rhythm of our day.

This past Saturday one of her apprentices did the final milking and headed off to bed.  She did not check, as she had been reminded, to be sure the candle was blown out.   She didn’t look back from afar to see if the barn was dark, and did not ask herself in bed if she had done everything needed in her job.  That night the barn went up in flames and the eight goats and 5 rabbits perished. 

Last night an email was sent out to all of Susun’s followers with a heartfelt note from Susun about the ceremony they will hold, and a raw, seemingly naked note from the apprentice.  As I read her words, so many memories flooded back of how unwavering Susun is in her teachings on mindfulness.  That we must be here, present and awake to see what we are doing….or not.  Every moment.  Floating through life in a haze is not tolerated at Laughing Rock.  

I can’t imagine how hard it was for this young woman to write to us all.  It shows inner courage.  The easy way would be to say how sorry she was and flee.  Sorry was a word that Susun demanded we remove in our conversations with her.  A cop out, she felt.  Not ownership.  Not true change.  Don’t be sorry she would yell…….do differently. 

The apprentice shared that she is watching to see when guilt, blame and shame creep in and then sweeping them to the side as they are emotions of the mind that get in the way of what is real.  What is right here.  Remorse and grief.  Letting herself be “hurled around” by grief.  But at the same time, moving forward by creating a GoFundMe to raise money to help rebuild.  Taking steps toward healing herself and those affected with compassion. 

I am inspired by her ability to put herself out there.  But even more deeply moved by her ability to look inside and face what is there in order to ….do differently.  My heart goes out to her.

Seeing what is real,
SARAH

Sunday, June 14, 2015

....doing the best that we can

Yogis,
Sunday afternoon.  Car packed, fresh picked herbs in a vase in the cup holder next to me and everything arranged at home so I can attend a 3 day yoga teacher training/retreat in VA Beach!  Yes!

One hour later as I head down I95 with the sunroof open,  breeze blowing my hair, my car suddenly lurches, pulls right and warning lights come on….all at 65 mph.  I pull off to read the manual which tells me to turn off the car and restart.  I do and venture forward.  Three more times this happens and each time my heart lurches right along with the car.  This is not good. 

I make it and immediately schedule a drop off at the dealer 15 miles away.  They have it for the full 3 days that I am there, while I have their loaner.  I get the “it’s ready” call just as the retreat ends.  All is good!  Not…….....

One hour into my homeward bound trip it happens again.  
 So here I am with 3 more hours to go. 

I can sense that I have to drive gently.  My hands are gripping the wheel so I am prepared for the unexpected shift.  I am going 60 on a 70mph highway. All I want to do is get home safely.   So what do you think happens? 

People fly up on my back, ride my tail and finally whip around me.  Many of these people happen to be driving 18 wheelers.  Or worse, they flash their high beams (even though I am in the slow lane and going 60), lay on the horn or give me the look.  I so wished I had a sign I could slap on my back window that shared “Car trouble – please be patient”.  But no such sign exists and I felt flashers would cause even more distraction.   I had 3 hours to watch this – and you know what I learned?

Life is no different.  Every day our lives interweave with people who we have absolutely no idea what is happening for them.  We come up from behind.  They too do not have a sign.  Our coworker, neighbor or the gentleman from India we speak with to repair our pc.  Perhaps they just experienced the joy of a new found friend, or maybe they learned only yesterday that they have cancer.  We don’t know.  The woman at the checkout who seems grouchy may not be able to make her tax bill this year.  The person in front of us in line with so many questions while the rest of us wait may feel unheard at home.  The teenager who gets your sandwich order wrong could be struggling over their very sense of worth.   We just don’t know.

So let’s give everyone a break.  Aware enough to notice if they need our help, but then just smoothly sailing by without giving them the finger.  Everyone….everyone……everyone…. is doing the best they can at this moment with where they are.   We cannot know where they are so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.  We are all doing the best that we can.

With only a half hour to go in my drive I knew I would make it home one way or another.  Dusk was settling in and as I looked to my left in a wide clearing, there was the biggest, most perfect, most beautiful round ball of orange fire slowly setting on the horizon.  It was magical.  It took my breath away.  And I realized that all of us driving up 95 right then, no matter where we were in our lives, were sharing that moment. 

My car is now back in the shop……

I see you,
SARAH

Sunday, June 7, 2015

....the sarah and phoebe adventures

Yogis,
I know, I know…..you are probably tired of hearing the saga of my life with Phoebe.  But she is my guru right now.  Yes, my dog is my guru.

Gurus come in and out of our lives.  Often they are in human form, but just as often the Universe presents them to us in some other shape.  An animal, an injury, a life changing event, a change of circumstance or an illness.  One moment they are not in our lives and the next they bump into us, even sometimes knocking us down, as we travel our path.  Oh, hello there!  They are all our gurus….when we are ready to learn.  There is a saying – when the student is ready the teacher will come. 

The definition of the word guru is “a spiritual teacher” or “remover of darkness”.  They guide us to see more clearly.  Shaking us out of our comfortably numb state so we can see the world differently.  They bring clarity and vision.

So right now, my dog is my guru….
She has been in my life for 6 months now.  Over and over as I walk her and we see other dogs, we approach them.  And each time it is with not so great results.   Hmmmm…..perhaps my view of how this should work isn’t in tune with her view?  I am known for my patience, but life was throwing me a curve ball and my patience was beginning to thin. 

But then, out of the blue a friend sent me a newsletter from a dog trainer which explained that not every dog wants to meet every other dog that happens to pass its path in a nose to nose, closely confined manner.  Just as we may not want to enter the private space and essentially hug (and sniff the butt of) each individual we encounter on our walk through the city.  That made sense.  That parallel walking was a much better, safer and less threatening way to greet.  So I decided to give it a go!

As neighbors walk by I yell out to ask if we can “parallel walk” with them, and after about 15 seconds of snarling and yanking, Phoebe settles into a natural gait. Being given the opportunity to smell the dog and get to knows its movements at a close but safe distance, allows her to warm up to the idea of hanging out together.  Dogs are pack animals and are naturally drawn to moving forward as a group.  I just hadn’t “seen” it that way.

But even strangers are not safe from my training regimen.   On Thursday as I ran her at 6 am an unsuspecting woman was walking a small fluffy dog (which is always a problem) so I yelled ahead with what sounded somewhat like a request for permission, but in reality was a “here I come!” warning as we got up next to them.   As the dogs barked and snarled I kept assuring her that it would stop soon and hopefully before the entire neighborhood was awakened.  Which it did.  A block later she turned toward her home and I yelled a thank you her way.  Poor thing….she probably hadn’t even had a cup of coffee yet.  This parallel walking, although not perfect yet, holds much more promise than my earlier plan.  I am having to view the world from Phoebe’s perspective, and not my own.  Clarity.  A new perspective.

I am so attuned now to her energy.  The vibrations I feel through the leash when she tenses and the way she loosens her lips and begins to breathe just a little heavier when something begins to scare her.  The way her ears go so far up on her head when she is upset that it looks like she is trying to gather them in a ponytail, and how when they hang low I know we are both in a good place. 

She, as my guru, isn’t allowing me to live life in a robotic, same old, way.  When I become complacent, she reminds me that my work isn’t over.  Uncomfortable for sure, but I am beginning to feel growth in areas I typically shy away from. 

Who or what is your guru right now?  What is shaking you out of your comfort zone?  Can you step back to see what teachings it has for you?

My guess is that something coming my way in the future will require these newly polished skills.  So thank you Phoebe!  And thank you Universe…..


My dog is my guru,
SARAH

Sunday, May 31, 2015

.....the power of words

Yogis,

I came across two images by Robert Sturman this week that provide the feeling sense of what I wanted to put into words.  That is what words are…..taking what is on the inside and sending it out.

For the past two weeks in class our practice has been on opening the heart.  Giving it the space in which to bloom. Shoulders rolled back and dropped.  Top of the chest spread with a slight lift up so that the heart is what sits most forward on our body and leads our day.   Then turning on the light there. 

In my own practice I do a lot of heart opening work….both physical and emotional.  I visualize the heart as the light in the lighthouse that shines even in the darkest of times.  The heart feels.  It knows.  It guides.  And it talks…..and never lies.
 But we must be quiet enough to hear it.

This week we shifted up to Vishuddha chakra, the throat.  Our ability to communicate verbally is powerful.  Every word carries a distinct vibration and each one has an effect.  Our words can be empty or there can be too many of them.  They can wound or sometimes be the words we believe others want to hear.  Or our words can take that light that is in the heart and send it out with truth, compassion and love.   Our speech, when mindful and coming from deep within is a beautiful gift we bestow upon others and the Universe.  

I find that the longer I practice yoga, meditate and open the body, the more aware I am of the words I and others use.  As they leave my mouth I sense the energy I am sharing with others and know if it matches what my heart is saying.  Certain words, such as “try”, “wish” and “worry” are being removed from my vocabulary to be replaced with words such as "can", will" and “grateful”.  When I catch myself complaining I recognize it for what it is.  When I can’t find the right word I pause and allow it to bubble up.

This afternoon was a perfect example….a fellow yogini posted some  wording on Facebook that she was going to be using on her website and asked for advice from a group of us.  I wrote back of the changes I would make and hit send.  I then reread what I wrote.  Ten minutes later it was still sitting with me.  My words felt  like a directive vs  the heartfelt suggestions I meant them to be.  So I wrote that.  I dropped down from my mind to my heart and sent the follow on note. 

Here is the second image.  This to me is what speaking is all about……
.......the throat as a clear open channel

Sending my light out to all of you through my words,
SARAH

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