Supermoon

This weekend is sacred. There is a merging happening, and it is a profound merging. The meeting of summer solstice and the full moon.

Such a fertile space of time, ripe with potential, abundance seeping over the edges and pouring forth into the universe. Can you feel it??

This weekend is full of energy to be harnessed. Sun energy and moon energy converging. A powerful  space of energetics. Tune into it over the weekend and see how it affects you. We are all affected in vastly different ways by such energetics, and I hope you share in the comments below how and if you felt it. There are also bound to be some of you thinking Sara you’re a freakin’ kook, the only vibration I feel is my stomach growling, and that’s cool too. I want to hear it all 🙂

Yesterday was powerful for me. I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with the renowned Bay Area YogaWorks teacher Lakshmi Norwood. But, just as I feel about my mentors Melanie Salvatore-August and Mynx Inatsugu, calling Lakshmi a “teacher” is in no way describing her. A lifeless term cannot possibly encompass such yoga goddess energy. You know what I mean if you’ve ever experienced Mynx, Mel or Lakshmi. Or perhaps you have a yoga “teacher,” (leader/healer/mentor/spiritual being) in your life who makes you feel this way. It’s an honor to be in the presence of such energy.

We practiced before an alter, covered with symbols of letting go (the “shedding” I wrote of just two days ago). Beyond the alter was the glistening reservoir, encircled by trees, radiant beneath a clear blue sky. Everyone was letting go of something different, opening arms wide to something new and fresh with the departure of spring and the arrival of summer. We engaged in a beautiful ceremony, a strong and powerful practice, tapping into energetics and ending in (for me at least) a totally blissed out state of über consciousness. I literally dawdled home with glazed eyes and a loop half smile.

Such practices, especially those accessing energetics and pranayama, often have a time release effect. I certainly experienced that today. I trust I will continue to experience it into tomorrow. Whenever I practice deeply focused pranayama and bandhas I feel the powerful shift over the course of, usually, two to three days. I have a particularly sensitive system that I am very in tune with, so this could have something to do with that, though it is not out of the ordinary for this effect to be had.

Today was nourishing for me, holistically. I had a smooth energy, which was soothed by a powerful morning practice that focused on deep hip openers and some focus demanding postures. I have been craving hip openers (as we hold a lot of pent up emotion and resistance in our hips) and my body was eager to open and release this morning. No tightness or stiffness, just pure, unrestrained willingness to press forth.

Coincidence? I think not. My heart and mind are as open as my body, thanks to the past three days’ yoga practice, with Mel, Lakshmi and today Dave. I am primed and ready to receive this moon energy in full! Speaking of moon energy…

Tonight is the night of the “supermoon.”  The supermoon is the largest full moon of the year. In a spectacular moment the moon, in its orbit, will reach its closest proximity to earth. Shortly thereafter, about a half hour, it will turn to a full moon. Talk about some serious lunar energy!

So what is it about a supermoon that is so enchanting? Perhaps you’re not enchanted, and that’s totally okay. I am a Cancerian, ruled by the moon, and am beyond enchanted by any and all things lunar. The moon’s orbit is in direct relation to the ocean’s tides and, not coincidentally, my Cancer sign is also a water sign. Yet another non-coincidence is that the sun moved into the astrological sign of Cancer yesterday, the 21st, on the day of summer solstice. Oppositely, the moon is in Capricorn. This polarity is intense and ripe, and it’s beautiful to find harmony within the opposition. It’s really no wonder my energy is soaring and orbiting like the moon herself, radiating out in space, dancing with the gravitational pull of Mother Earth!

Now, if I’ve not gone too “earth muffin” on you and you’re still reading, I will wrap this here supermoon essay up nicely (or as nicely as I can amidst such frolicking energy). Take a deep breath tonight, step outdoors and take a look up at the sky. Bask in the full moon glow, and let it bring to life how deeply and beautifully human we all are. We are all one. This lunar energy is affecting each and every one of us, all over planet earth, whether it permeates every individual’s awareness or not. Harness the energy. Bathe in it. Sip it in.

May the beaming radiance of this super full moon shed clarity and light on your path, leading you ever toward abundance…

Om shanti.

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Solstice Shedding

We are on the cusp of summer solstice, my beautiful friends. The shedding of layers, the literal shifting from one season into another. The metaphoric shifting of one mindset into another, one cosmic idea into another.

I gratefully attended a powerful yoga class of my beloved teacher Melanie Salvatore-August’s this morning, which began the shedding momentum of this earthly, biannual solstice.

Melanie illustrated the necessity of “shedding.” Now especially. I’ll be honest, I didn’t anticipate my solstice celebration beginning today, as I’m attending an event very close to my heart tomorrow. Tomorrow, on the day of our summer solstice, I will have the honor of attending a workshop with a teacher I’ve heard loads about but never personally experienced: Lakshmi Norwood. We will be engaging in an outdoor yoga practice, a solstice workshop (SO right up my alley!) at the local reservoir, overlooking the water.

I. Am. SO. Excited.

Time to don my Ren Fest flower wreath and be a goddess with my fellow spirits, welcoming the solstice with open arms, an open heart and a practice deeply embedded in nature’s inherent rhythms. Yes, I’m a hippie dippie earth muffin girl. I will write further about tomorrow’s experience after having lived, breathed and sang it.

But for now I have today. Beautiful today. Today is infused with the imagery of shedding. Breaking off. Breaking out. 

Breaking out of the armor on our backs, layered on by stress, both due and undue; breaking out of the furrowed expressions of angst, both inherited and pioneered. Smoothing our facial expressions, blowing through our lips, literally breaking out of the cage of inattention that we sometimes find ourselves locked within, we moved on our mats.

Melanie said something extra powerful this morning about this beloved solstice, as we held plank, beads of sweat forming on our unwrinkled foreheads. 

“The earth is shifting, the sun is shifting, we’re not exempt.” 

Not that this has any meaning, but I spent all day (literally the past five hours) trying to remember the last word of that sentence. Was it immune? Pardoned? Separate? What was it? Ahh! I very nearly emailed Mel to find out if she remembered, I was so bent on accessing the exact word that held such weight for me, that hit me with such force, as I burned in plank pose this morning!

Five hours later I rediscovered it. Upon googling and pouring over my thesaurus app, it found its way back to me. Exempt. We are not exempt. In holding with my newfound Ayurvedic roots, the science of life and the methodical system of living close to and in tune with the rhythms of nature and this earth, we are not exempt from the shifting that is occurring around us. The sun, the earth, the earthly beings. We are very much a part of this solstice. More than we even realize. More is happening inside of us than many of us even realize.

In true Melanie form, she introduced a theme of letting go. What can we let go of, as the earth lets go of spring and welcomes with wide, open, loving mother earthly arms the beauty that is summer? What can we let go as we too shift and move forward, wide, open and loving?

For me there were two immediate answers to that question.

The first was spawned by an event that happened for me this morning, shortly before leaving for the yoga studio. I was deeply misunderstood by a reader, and acquaintance with whom I built a friendship  across the miles thanks to the big wide world of the web. She sent me an email filled with stinging words and I was struck with the dilemma: to defend myself or to let it go?

When one’s been misunderstood is it best to defend oneself, and therefore argue, or just let it go?

Melanie had my answer for me, today. Let it go.

There were layers to this question for me this morning, before I left for class, and I explored some as I sipped a green smoothie and chewed on the predicament. I wanted badly to defend myself, as there’s much defense on my side. But I realized it doesn’t matter.

As there are with many questions, there are layers. Layers dealing with issues like who is doing the misunderstanding, is it a spouse or family member where resolution is truly important, if not vital? Or is it a stranger one might never see again? Or an acquaintance? A person who, perhaps, you’ve simply grown away from. Or maybe it’s someone who never truly understood you in the first place. An important layer to find truth in. An important layer to explore. And explore I did.

Another layer I considered was the merit of the misunderstanding. One cannot deem another’s opinion worthy or not, but in one’s own mind that is exactly what needs to be done. It sounds selfish, but it’s not. Is the opinion this other person is bestowing upon me truthful to who I am? It is truthful to who they are, to their own consciousness, and therefore it is neither right nor wrong. It simply is. Right and wrong aside, one must decide for oneself if it holds merit to one’s own highest truth.

If not, the answer is simple. Argue not, defend not, simply let it go, like an exhale long retained. If merit is present, in whatever capacity, take from it what you can. Learn from it. Really extract the truth and observe it, study it, apply it to yourself, and then move on.

I think that’s the most important layer: move on.

I won’t lie, being misunderstood can hurt. I was called out, for the first of likely many times, for “self promoting,” an act I’m inspired and courageous enough to do thanks to my friend and mentor Jennifer Pastiloff. Who else is going to promote me but me? Exactly. Nobody. It’s my job; if I want health and wellness to be my career, if it is what I’m all about, I must put it out there. Not everyone’s going to like it. Not everyone is going to receive it as a positive message, and I will lose some people on my journey. But it’s a risk I must take in the pursuit of my own bliss and truth.

Jen Pastiloff posted a really great vlog about this exact complication. She even has another post from 2012 entitled, “Brag About Yourself, Damn It!” It’s an act of self confidence that will be misconstrued as egocentrism some of the time.

As for arguing one’s case, I fall victim to this temptation all too often. But I’m finished with it. The urge to “have the last word” comes to mind. I get shaky in the hands and I want to write back all of my truths. But, truths or not, they’re still excuses. And I’m trying to give up excuses. 

It’s never easy to be misunderstood. Whether it is a dear friend or simply someone out in cyber space, seeking their own highest truth. Highest truths don’t always jive with one another. But they are nonetheless deeply sacred to the individual.

Being misunderstood happens to me the more I put myself out there, but I choose to see this as a positive rather than a negative. Because it means I am putting myself out there! WAY out there! Far enough out there to run into a greater number of people who don’t understand me and, in turn, a most wonderful majority of people who do!

Jen Pastiloff also writes a lot about the 49 people in the room who love, support and understand you, and the one who doesn’t. We love to focus on that one. In reality, we’re lucky if it’s just one person! We love to focus on the one/few/many who don’t love, support or understand us. This is not beneficial. What is beneficial is to, first of all, hear them. Don’t live in denial; do hear them. Just don’t base your own self worth on their opinion! Second of all, let it goooo. Give it a sacred send off into the endless sky and be done with it! Kaputt! Finito! Buh-bye!

One last layer to really consider, both about others and about ourselves, is our ever-changing nature. People change. All the time. I’m sure most of you have heard the quote, “Change is the only constant,” and it’s true.

It’s important, before judging and trying to understand others, to self-assess. If one has undergone a transformation recently and had a shift of perspective, perhaps it’s not best to try and see life and others through the same ol’ filter. Or at least dust off the surface of the filter. Things are going to look different if you’ve changed.

I was judged and accused by someone who has recently done a lot of changing. I’ve stayed the same. I am growing, yes; but this is my path. I am walking the same path, speaking the same words, smiling the same smile. They have begun to interpret me differently and that is okay, but I digest their judgement and accusations fully knowing that it is more rooted in their change than in anything having to do with me. I know one thing for certain: this is me and I’m committed to my authenticity!

That’s all any of us can be 🙂

In a nutshell, this is how I feel about today’s episode after a beautifully sweaty and profound practice this morning, some time to mull it over, and a conversation with my mom (whom I discuss everything under the stars with) is this…thank you for misunderstanding me, judging me and voicing your opinion about me. Thank you to all who do. Because it offers me the sacred opportunity to see myself through another’s eyes, to extract the nectar from your words and then to fly on. Fly on with what I can find useful from your stinging words, letting the others drop like wilted petals to the earth.

Let it go.

What else can we shed off in this time of seasonal transition? Another bout of harmful energy, for me, is fear. Specifically fear around my lifestyle of health and wellness. Given my past of restriction and dishonesty, both with my own body and my family members who love and support me, I suffered greatly at my own hand. I thought I understood health. That led me on a journey that, if you’re following my blog, most of you already know. I fought anorexia as a teenager (and survived, YIPPEE!) and entered several years of what I deem “the swinging pendulum.” Swinging back and forth from way restrictive to way overindulgent, to and fro, again and again.

Part of me is fearful that I won’t be trusted in my career and advising of holistic wellness given my past. Boom, there I said it. It’s out and it’s ugly. I don’t like admitting that, but there it is. I feel like this fear found its way into my consciousness because of the slight distrust I myself have felt in the past towards “health gurus” who are recovered from addictions of any sort.

But I trust myself. I am eight years recovered and an entirely different person. I bask in health and wellness and wish nothing more than to share it with the world. I am still a type-A person. I am still very set in my ways. I am still going to hold my health as a highest priority which, to some, is intense. But to me it’s my world. It’s holistic. It’s so far beyond food, it’s so far beyond yoga, it’s so much about yoking mind, body and soul in a way that allows my Being to thrive. It is a different equation than what allows your Being to thrive. Enter: Bauman. I am arming myself with the tools to offer guidance to any and every divine Being wanting to dedicate themselves in any capacity to Self-love and holistic wellness. I am going to be able to cater to each individual constitution so that they themselves can thrive, and it may look way different than my own Self wellness practice.  I am indescribably passionate about this.

Just writing all that scrubbed away much of the fear.

The rest of the fear around my beloved lifestyle is a fear that remains from many years ago, from a darker time, like dredges of scum lingering on the bottom of the pool. Stuck but no longer welcome.

Fear around rejection and acceptance.

Rejection and acceptance are like the yin and yang of my fear. I want so badly to be accepted, and it feels great when I am. I want desperately to be pardoned from rejection, and when I’m not it hits me like a ton of weights. I cling to rejection, masochistically reliving it for way too long. It’s a flaw that I’m working with (and have written ad nauseum about!).

I fear social engagements sometimes, out of old habit. Will there be anything for me to eat? Will “they” judge me that I don’t drink alcohol? Will everyone think I’m weird for being so committed to my health?

Those thoughts swam around my head for a long time. It was only recently that I realized I no longer fear social engagements. Those close to me know, appreciate and accept my lifestyle, if not share it! Those who don’t know me never judge me but ask questions and share stories. It’s beautiful. Nearly everywhere I go there’s an option for vegetarian/quasi-vegans, for those with food allergies, for those wishing to nourish their bodies with natural foods, and I’m no longer afraid to ask candidly for what I want.

I realized this morning, as I shed and let go and opened up, that I’m clinging to old patterns and behaviors that I’ve outgrown. I’ve outgrown needing to be fearful of the world! The world is now my oyster. I am secure in who I am, I am candid about my lifestyle, and committed to it. My truth is similar to the truths of many and vastly different from the truths of many others. Such is life. Some will understand me, some will not. But what matters, what must remain constant, is the acceptance and understanding of me from myself.

Self-acceptance and understanding.

So that is my lesson for this glorious solstice. This shedding of one season and metaphysical shift into a new space. As I bid farewell to spring, I leave behind attachment to being misunderstood, the desire to defend myself to those who see things differently and the expired habits of fear. With summer comes a fresh perspective, the truth that there is nothing to fear, and an abundance of self-acceptance and understanding.

Of what can you let go? What can you shed off? From what can you break free?

On the eve of summer solstice, take a moment to perhaps reflect on this notion. Turn inward and nourish yourself deeply, like no one else can. Seek what you wish to inspire this new season with. Even if it means borrowing straight from me with self-acceptance and understanding, please do so, I don’t mind sharing. In fact, I adore sharing! In sharing, we raise the vibration. That being said, pick your own and use mine; if, and only if, they in fact resonate with you. Raise the vibration.

As spring slips away and summer makes a grand appearance, let us come together as earthly beings to cultivate peace, truth, flowers and an ever elevating vibration.

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Cherry Blossoms and Oz

The other night I dreamt my mom and I were heading out on a hike. But we weren’t in our ordinary environment, back in my hometown, where we actually do our hiking. Back home the land is covered in rolling vineyards, shaded by big, lovely trees and the valley is rimmed with purple and blue lush hills.

In the dream, we started out with a steep incline. Rows of what seemed to be vineyards rolled upwards but, upon closer inspection, was an orchard. A bright, vibrant, green grassed orchard. Cherry blossoms were all over, and the blue sky was as rich in color as the green earth. I could even smell the cherry blossoms in the air.

You know the movie The Wizard of Oz (*my FAVORITE movie as a child…) and how striking and vivid the film becomes when color is introduced? My dream was alive with Wizard of Oz colors. That’s a big deal to this grown up Dorothy.

As a lifelong dream meaning seeker and enthusiast, I instinctually noticed some key themes from within my dream. The gradient of the earth; the vibrancy of colors, particularly blue and green; the magical quality to the atmosphere; the company (my momma); the cherry blossoms!

I have several dream dictionaries (I’m telling you, seeker and enthusiast…) but I felt like letting this one sit in my consciousness for a few days, steeping the themes in my own intuition.

Over the past few days I just kept coming back to the cherry blossoms. So today I researched their significance.

I found a piece by Stephanie Cargile which had some nuggets of wisdom in regard to my lovely cherry blossoms. “According to the Buddhist tradition, the breathtaking but brief beauty of the blossoms symbolizes the transient nature of life. The flowers last for at most a few weeks, but during that time, both the mountains and the cities are full of the delicate pink flowers, be the trees wild or cultivated.” 

Then, on a British wedding blog, I found a quote by Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa and some more wisdom via Kate Aspen. She explains, “The cherry blossom is a harbinger of good fortune, an emblem of love and affection, and it also represents spring. Because cherry blossoms only last a few days to a week, they are an enduring metaphor for the fleeting nature of life. Still, cherry blossoms add incomparable beauty to our planet.”

 

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So both sources discuss the symbolism of fleetingness, transience, impermanence in regard to life. But, in my own little head, I can’t help but wonder if the transience is meant to represent something more pointed for me, right now. Life is inarguably fleeting. This I know; it is through the practice of yoga that I find comfort and solace in this truth.

So my Awareness is penetrated and my interest piqued by the dream of cherry blossoms. But what of the vibrant colors?

I choose not to research this one. I choose to sink beneath the surface of what I think and know and dig into what I feel. I feel that the colors are meant to wake me to the truth that life is brighter than it seems. A reminder that, no matter the terrain or environment, those colors will infuse the landscape. They are there, if I so choose to see them.

I also feel the incline to speak volumes. Perhaps I’m beginning a steep climb, but oh my Patanjali are the colors alive, the flowers fragrant, the scenery remarkable…

I would take a striking, dreamy, aromatic journey any day, even if it meant climbing the whole way. Because you know my favorite part of climbing? The view from the top.

A cherry blossom laced view painted in Oz colors – my cup of tea!

I guess life is all up to interpretation. Layers upon layers of wondering, exploring, adventuring…and it’s all a merry-go-round of our own Consciousness. The world is what we make it. It ahs the potential to be the most vividly beautiful place and the most hauntingly tragic place all at one. So much potential, resting in the palms of our hands. So why not choose to see it the way we wish? Through Oz colored lenses, cradling cherry blossoms in our hands, fragrant and fragile, incomparably beautiful in their ephemerality…

 

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Sources:

http://www.stolaf.edu/people/kucera/YoshidaWebsite/evolution/essay_pages/stephanie_cargile.h

http://blog.kateaspen.co.uk/?m=201101

 

The Supplements You Absolutely Need To Take

“I eat a healthy, plant-based, balanced diet, so why do I need to take supplements?”

I know, I know. I was singing the same tune myself not so long ago. There’s no definitive answer, as every body is vastly unique, and there are many people who can get away with taking no supplements at all. The truth, though, is that we’re all quite deficient in certain areas without evening knowing it.

There are two “golden supplements” that I personally recommend in addition to a plant-based, intuitive eating plan.

  1. A high-quality fish oil (or vegan alternative).
  2. A high quality probiotic.

“I eat fish, why do I need to take fish oil?”

The answer is that a high-quality fish oil supplement provides concentrated, clean nutrition that supports healthy cholesterol levels, eye health, cardiovascular health and joint health, to name a few.

I’m not going to recommend a particular fish oil because, again, our bodies are different as are our budgets and physical needs. What I will give you are some MUSTS in terms of selecting a fish oil supplement:

  • Third Party-Tested Product (preferably IFOS, International Fish Oil Standards, tested). This guarantees that the fish oil you’re consuming is pure, and that the peroxide, anisidine, PCBs, heavy metals, lead and mercury levels, among other things, have been tested and deemed low or practically nonexistent.
  • Concentration. Check the labels. Do you need to take five capsules of one brand to get the same amount of omega-3s you’d get in one capsule from another brand? The labels are tricky. All in all, you end up getting the same bang for your buck but with a lower quality product. So investigate the numbers and don’t be afraid to hound the health food store staff with your questions!
  • Enteric Coated. Having an enteric coating on your fish oil capsules ensures that the supplement will make it into the intestines, where it can be assimilated by the body. This coating protects our stomach acid from dissolving the capsule before it ever makes it to the small intestine. Without this coating the capsule is obliterated by the body’s powerful stomach acids and you’re not only losing out on the nutrients, but you’re wasting your money!
Ok, so we have fish oil covered. Now, why take a probiotic?
It’s simple. To improve digestive health. Probiotics are known to support the immune system, yeast balance, and balance ailments such as constipation, indigestion, gas, bloating, yeast infections, candida and the side effects of antibiotics.
Eighty percent of our immune support resides in our gut. There are three times the number of bacteria in our tummy alone (trillions) than there are cells in our entire body!
So, how do you go about choosing a probiotic?
First and foremost, there are shelf-stable probiotics and there are refrigerated probiotics. Typically, the difference in these two is potency. Refrigerated probiotics will have higher potency, typically 5-200 billion CFUs (colony-forming units), while shelf-stable probiotics will offer anywhere from 1-10 billion CFUs.
When you look at the plethora of toxins many of us have been exposed to through food, medication and environment throughout our lifetime, we can really use all the digestive support we can get. Even the most health-conscious clean eater would benefit immensely from the lowest strain probiotic. Proper digestion is truly the key to our overall health.
When selecting a probiotic to help balance your digestive health, be on the lookout for these MUSTS:
  • Guaranteed potency THROUGH the expiration date.
  • High CFU (colony-forming units).
  • Multiple strains (the more L’s, Lactobacillus strains, and more B’s, Bifidobacterium strains, the better).
A good recommendation for someone on a tight budget would be to splurge on a refrigerated, high-potency probiotic to jumpstart the digestive system, then transition to a less expensive, but still high quality (potentially shelf-stable) probiotic for maintenance. Again, this depends entirely on your own body and needs.
Please feel free to share in the comments below your favorite brands of fish oil and probiotics and the ways in which these supplements have changed your wellness and digestion.
Cheers to your holistic health and longevity!

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As seen on MindBodyGreen

Photo Credit: MindBodyGreen.com via Shutterstock

Overcoming Resistance

Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.

-Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art

Today I had the honor of taking my Divine mentor, Melanie Salvatore-August’s, workshop “Courage to Blossom” today. Mel teamed up with Jessica Boylston-Fagonde, the creator of Brand Thyself, to present 50 yogis, yoginis, teachers and beings of light with the opportunity to overcome resistance.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

-Anais Nin

“Today is about getting a little messy and being okay with it,” Jessica said to us, as we all stared back at her. One hundred eager eyes, fifty bodies sitting in virasana on blocks, hundreds of dreams ready to be pursued. It’s through putting down the perfectionist tendencies, Jessica continued, that we overcome resistance.

Where is there resistance in your life? I’m seriously asking. Take a minute. Think about it. Think about it fully. It’s really important. Resistance comes in many forms, just as inspiration comes in many forms. Resistance could come in the form of me choosing to get lost on facebook rather than write this meaningful essay, letting the words that are bursting out of my soul leap onto the page and seep out all of your worlds. Resistance could come in the form of not leaving a relationship one knows is a dead end, or over for whatever reason, or unhealthy. Resistance could come in the form of self-loathing, shuddering at one’s own reflection, drowning that loathing in more unhealthy food, lifestyle and emotional choices. These are just some examples but, by the time you’ve finished reading this last paragraph, you probably know for your own Self what greatest resistance you struggle with in your life.

Where are you feeling stuck? Where are you feeling afraid to move forward, step out, try? Jess gave the great example that it could be something as simple as keeping a clean house. One oughtn’t underestimate the profound effect something so simple could have one one’s life. It could be taking time with one’s spouse or partner, really dedicating quality time to them each week. It could be turning off technology by 8pm. It could be so many little things; little things that have a big effect.

Resistance comes in many a guise. But, here’s the good news and the tricky part…so does opportunity.

“The way it creates itself may come in a form you never realized,” Jess said. The “it” here is the opportunity, the inspiration, the opening. The key to really making change is to say yes to every single opportunity. Those opportunities may come to you looking like an ordinary invitation, an ordinary idea, a “nothing special about this” moment. See it clearer. Slow down and listen to it. Say yes to it.

Nothing happens by accident. I’ve been having a sincere internal struggle this past week. To do the 300hour teacher training or not. I have the magical opportunity to mentor with Melanie, a woman I look at like the inspirational big sister the Universe meant me to have, paving the way for me to live a more authentic, fearless life. That opportunity alone is begging my soul with all its might to go that direction. I would go that direction because of my deep and abiding metaphysical connection to Melanie. Not because of the program itself. The program is one of a kind, it’s the best 300hour teacher training I have available to me, and it would be an honor to do it. But the truth of mine that I faced this past week, a truth that actually came to me a month ago as I mediated in viparita kirani, is that I don’t want to be a full-time yoga teacher. It’s not my destiny, it’s not my calling. It’s a truth that hit me like a sack of stones, a punch in the gut, because I felt overwhelmingly like I’d be disappointing my beloved teachers if I shared that truth.

[People pleaser.]

I worried that my aching desire to study with my beautiful teacher might be mistaken as disinterest if I were not to proceed with the professional teacher training. I worried, I obsessed, I feared. I turned it over and over in my mind, chewing on the worry. I opened the gateway for ugly emotions to come flooding in…jealousy, possessiveness, fear, regret, worry, greed, doubt…it pains me to admit it, but I was bobbing this past week in the throes of those sick emotions. Sentiments that I view as choices, rather than emotions. I was choosing to let them quake me. I knew deep down what I was meant to do, and I was questioning it based on cancerous emotions.

I’m not going to be as close knit a part of my Tribe if I don’t go on this journey with them…other people are going to get to mentor with Melanie and learn from her and bond with her and she’ll forget all about me…I won’t know as much about teaching yoga as they do…I might regret this one day…they won’t love me as much…my teachers will think I don’t care about teaching yoga…

Gross. Bleck. Throw that sh*t out of the car.

[Or place it kindly in the compost bin for the worms to go to town on like a true eco-friendly yogini would do].

My purpose is to share yoga as a part of my passion for holistic wellness. My purpose is to teach yoga while I share my knowledge of holistic nutrition. My purpose as a yoga teacher is to bring awareness and to make space in physical bodies as I weave in knowledge of the subtle body, Ayurveda and a healthy, nourishing approach to eating. That is my purpose. And writing about it, we can’t forget the writing about each and every tidbit, every little step of the way!

I have my own quad of passions to share: yoga, holistic nutrition, writing and Ayurveda. These passions make up my purpose. I might think all of those ugly thoughts but does that make them true? No.

I am forever going to be an integral part of my close knit Tribe. I’m not the only one taking a different route post teacher training. Yes, other yogis are going to mentor with Melanie and yes they’re going to know more than I do as yoga teachers…but does that negate the intensity and importance of my connection with them or my connection with Mel? Absolutely not. It’d be absurd to believe it would! My teachers know I’m passionate about teaching yoga. But they also know I’m a writer, a nutrition student, head over heels for Ayurveda and subtle body. They introduced some of these passions to me, in addition to training me as a yoga teacher! So of course they support me, it was their wisdom (and Divine intervention) that led me here!

It’s a choice to follow your passion. And what is passion, anyway?

“The fuel to stay on the path even when it looks ugly. Even in the face of judgement, ridicule, misunderstanding…” Having passion is about SAYING YES. Saying YES to the feeling that fills you with such boiling pleasure that you might burst into flame. That “might burn you right up” passion is what you hold onto…and then you anchor it with purpose.

“Step into your passion and anchor it in purpose.” Jess’ words were spoken soft but their weight could be held in our one hundred open, sweaty palms.

“Purpose is a vibrating yes,” Melanie explained, “purpose feels like YES in the body. It can be felt in the body.”

Passion gives us compassion. Compassion creates a safer world for us to live in. Mel’s simple words sketched such a perfect equation for a life more fully lived…

PASSION –> COMPASSION –> A SAFER WORLD

My passion is holistic nutrition. My passion is yoga. My passion is writing. My passion is sharing with the world the experiences, often beautiful and often traumatic, that have made me who I am today. My passion is promoting holistic wellness. My passion is living close to nature, in tune with the rhythms of mother earth. My passion is ever feeling more comfortable in my own skin, and helping others to feel more comfortable in theirs. My passion is in manifesting. My passion is in learning and sharing and growing.

My yogic passion is personal, internal, a journey I’m on. I’m eager to share the discoveries I’ve made along the way, I dream of leading yoga retreats by the sea, with creative writing sprinkled in. That was the original dream. Now I wish to incorporate wellness, nutrition, Ayurveda, subtle body…the dream is growing. It’s snowballing, gathering momentum.

Anchoring the passion in purpose.

What if you can’t identify your passion? You may be reading this thinking, Sara I don’t know what my passion is, so what can I take from all this? Jess provided an exercise to do just that.

EXERCISE IN IGNITING PASSION

  • Think back on your life up until this point…
  • Pinpoint a moment (or series of moments) in which you felt passionate about something, anything.
  • Identify an experience, emotion, event, something that left you feeling deeply moved, deeply connected.
  • Consider what types of books you read, the hobbies you have, the art hanging on your walls, the stuff you google to learn more about, the little things you collect…

That is where your passion is hiding. Except it’s not hiding. It’s waiting, patiently, for you to see it. To snatch it up. To light it on fire. To anchor it with purpose.

We came up with mantras today in the workshop, and then set action plans to live out these truths of ours.

We must be willing to be vulnerable, because it is in vulnerability that we discover the key to courage…it is in vulnerability that we see our own heart, that we realize our purpose.

So I set a mantra. Mantras are not something I’m unfamiliar with, in fact I’ve been setting them my whole life. My mom introduced them to me as a kid. I’ve always relied on mantra (especially as a rather obsessive individual) to get me through tough times.

The mantra I shared in the circle of beating hearts and beaming faces at the end of today’s workshop was this.

I am manifesting the life I dream of by listening to my intuition and feeling the vibration of my purpose.

I am intuitive, I am vulnerable, I have purpose and I feel the vibration.

My action plan was to LOOK FORWARD AND NOT BACK and to write myself a letter forgiving all of the insecurities, the doubts, the fears, the mistakes, the moments of “I’m not good enough,” and “I’m not stable enough.”

“Don’t look back you’re not going that way…”

I’m forgiving my seventeen year old Self for the torture she caused this beautiful body of mine in the throes of anorexia. I’m forgiving her for being susceptible to this disease, this disease that latched its teeth into her young, warm skin sometime in middle school and whose venom didn’t fully poison the bloodstream until the most poignant year of her teens…I’m forgiving the scars and battle wounds that caused a five year roller coaster of emotion after that life threatening battle. I’m saying farewell to the voice that whispered in the dark, moist corners of that state of disease that I’m not good enough, not stable enough, that I’m “damaged.” I’m saying NO to judgement around the word disease; disease is quite literally dis ease, a general place of unease, one we are all susceptible to at any point if we do not protect ourselves. I am saying YES to forgiveness and looking forward.

It’s safe to say today was life changing for me. Nearly every time I share a space with Melanie Salvatore-August my life is changed. I have gathered tools to snowball this dream of mine. This blaze that began as nothing more than a pile of kindling, some mossy twigs and my furiously rubbing palms.

I’m getting really comfy with being vulnerable. Vulnerability is like my new greatest pal, and I have been spending more and more time with her lately than I even anticipated. But I’ve also been growing by leaps and bounds, far more growth in such a short span of time than I ever thought possible…hmm, imagine that 😉

Vulnerability leads to courage. And our potential shares a direct relationship with that courage. The resistance is everywhere, it floats in the air and it clings to our skin. Courage is what breaks it off, it’s what cracks the surface and lets the sunlight in. Vulnerability can be scary, but through vulnerability we find courage and through courage we set flame to our passion.

It may be an uncertain journey at times but, I’ll tell you this…it’s sure worth the sight of this blazing passion fire.

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Connect with Melanie at http://melaniesalvatoreaugust.com where she will, inevitably, guide you towards “harnessing ur awes(om)eness.”

Connect with Jess at www.BrandThyself.com

Image courtesy of Robert Sturman.

REfreakingJECTION

Rejection, rejection. ReFREAKINGjection. What is it about rejection that draws us like moths to flame?

What is it about “I don’t want you,” that makes us bury our heads into the issue and settle in for the long haul? What is it about “no,” that invites us to fill in that gaping space of silence that follows the haunting one syllable word with all of the most detailed, self-deprecating banter we can come up with? What is it about rejection that is so damn beguiling? 

I was rejected in what most would consider the kindest possible way. Yes, I’m referring to my past relationship about which I write ad nauseaum. Not to worry, one day I’ll have another relationship and write about that one until we all puke 😉

I mean it, though. We parted ways amicably, as amicably as two people could after three years as partners. We stayed friends. Heck, we were still in love. So how could things have ended negatively, when love was still present? We went our separate ways because he “couldn’t give [me] what I need[ed]” and because I had grown tired of waiting around and keeping quiet about the things that weren’t good enough. I had grown tired of pretending the one-sided relationship was something I was happy being a part of anymore. 

The truth is I walked away from that relationship feeling okay because he wasn’t ready for the big commitment. The big commitment. I believed him when he said that, when he was ready, he’d only ever want it with me. I believed that he would never get more committed than he’d been with me. I believed he really would take the time to be by himself and “do him” like he subconsciously wanted so desperately to do whilst dutifully making me a happy girlfriend for the last year of our relationship.

Then February hit. He broke the news to me, via awkward text (never my favorite means of communication for even good news breaking), that he had a new girlfriend. The text part was accidental, as I’d suggested we get together and catch up and he’d responded awkwardly. Which was followed by the “I didn’t want to say this over text but…” conversation. The “I wish I could have had this conversation in person” conversation (I had just suggested we get together, therefore offering said face-to-face, but I digress…). 

New girlfriend.

That made me the old girlfriend. The fiercely trusting and believing old girlfriend. The shunted one, the dreaded ex-girlfriend. The ex part felt far heavier knowing there was now a “current girlfriend” in the picture. Gross.

Upon receiving that text, the flood gates were unlatched and propped open for the heroine-esque drug rejection to come pouring in. It flooded my veins. My eyes grew bloodshot. I rubbed at my face willing the images of this faceless new girlfriend to get out of my head. 

I wrestled with ugly emotions. Possessiveness, jealousy, guilt, rejection, anxiety, sadness, denial, self-pity, anger, judgement…seriously ew. I yearned for answers and pretty solutions. He thought he couldn’t get me back so he went for her…maybe she forced him into it (a sweet and loyal girlfriend of mine even offered this suggestion with a convincing shake of her head and a solemn expression of certainty)…maybe he’ll be with her and realize it doesn’t compare to what we had.

My thoughts raced on and on. But the mental road trip was fueled by nothing but ugly emotions. It was running on fumes and destroying the engine. The truth was I didn’t want him back. It was the rejection poisoning my bloodstream with doubt and jealousy, fooling me into thinking I’d become a duped, abandoned damsel in distress.

I felt this way because he’d moved on before me. He had a new, sparkly relationship and I was alone. I am alone. I love it this way and I’m in no way ready for a relationship, but still the circumstances stung like a slap in the face. I’m alone and he’s with her. 

Naturally, thanks to the social media world we live in, and my common sense, I know who this new girlfriend is. I remember her commenting on his facebook before this all unfolded. The masochist in me  looked, the effect of their “couple’s picture” not even penetrating the exterior of my Awareness, as I know what would happen if it I’d let it. I just saw it and closed safari. Gross. Puke. The end.

I may be alone but I’m alone so I can become the person I want to be the next time I enter into a sacred union with another human being. Not that rejection asked me why I was alone before invading my mind space.

I had been the one to leave the relationship and sprout wings. I completed a yoga teacher training that I would never have done had I still been his girlfriend. I am pursuing holistic nutrition school, I am pursuing writing with the fury of a passionate woman, I am chasing my dreams unapologetically and dancing all the way. It is I who have grown immensely in this past year. So what does rejection have to say about that?

Yes, it positively sucks that he said he couldn’t handle a serious relationship and now he’s in one with someone else. But it is what it is. It doesn’t make me any less amazing or our relationship any less special to him. It simply is. There are cosmic reasons why it’s unfolding the way it is and I trust them. Rejection questions cosmic events. Rejection challenges intuition. Rejection strangles self-esteem. 

So I’m kicking rejection out of the car. I’m revoking rejections party invitation. Don’t let the screen door hit ya on the way out!

Rejection is a nasty, addictive, masochistic, irresistibly tempting plague. So I’m building up an immunity. I’m drinking the “anti-rejection” kool aid. I’m redefining rejection. 

From this day forward rejection has the following meaning:

A gift from the Universe; the altering of one’s path or paths for 

a higher and better reason; a Divine blessing in disguise.

So, Universe, I’ve spent the past four months in a tennis match of rejection, but I’m letting that hitchhiker out of the car. I am alone for but an instant, though, because as I stop on the side of the road to bid farewell to my ‘ol pal rejection, I welcome in its place a new, bright-eyed passenger: gratitude. 

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Soften

What can we do to get more comfortable with the UNcomfortable? How can we find ease in the effort, sub sweetness for strain? 
If we harden, we become a big, heavy block of energy, and we must trek over the obstacle or wait for a door to open…but if we soften, we will find ways to flow freely through the challenge…discovering pockets and crevices to move through, with suddenly so many a way over the mountain…

When we soften we gain power. We increase our opportunities. It so often feels the opposite. If I harden in my resolve, if I stubbornly stick to one method, if I hold true to this one belief, I will succeed…yadda yadda yadda. It’s not true. It’s almost never true. It might be true but it will take a very long time and there will be very little beauty in it. There is little beauty in stubbornness. 

Instead, soften. Melt into the crevices, seep through the challenge and come fluidly out the other side like water, unfazed by the traverse. You might bob and create waves in the chaos, but you will not fall apart. Hardness will crack and crumble, but softness is supple, it bends.

Be like water and flow through challenges, soften and be light, the droplets will divide endlessly, adapting to the weather. Evaporating, raining down again, flowing across the land, gathering in the sea…it’s cyclical. Allow yourself to adapt in such a way. Allow yourself to divide endlessly,  trusting your cells to rejoin, refresh, start anew, to divide endlessly.

Soften and be love.

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