February 5, 2015 § Leave a comment
I admit it. At times, without the soy cappuccino, I don’t think I could get through my next to-do.
… but I only allow myself a tall, soy cappuccino, which, in Starbucks speak, means small.
Now that we got that clear…
It’s artificial. And even though that artificial boost can feel great, I know that moment will come when the boost disappears. If I take coffee regularly, I know that moment will come when I feel depleted of my own prana, or life force, and then I will feel the need to detox.
I think it’s nice never to have to detox.
I sleep a good 7 hours and sometimes I take naps. People think this is appropriate because I get up early for sadhana. But that’s not it. For years, I went to bed by 10:30, got up at 3:50 am, and I woke up rested, needing no naps nor artificial boost, and I felt completely sustained. For years.
I recently told a Bhakti Yogi that I believed my dilemma had to do with (a) my current diet, which is more rajasic than sattvic — a slippery slope to tamasic (the soy cappuccino) — and (b) taking the more moderate approach to my practice rather than going all the way in, the former of which I believe is more challenging. More on that some other time.
The Bhaki wasn’t convinced, at least about blaming my diet. He said, the practice of devotion is what sustains.
I was totally willing to look at this. And I did.
My diet didn’t impact me until something else changed. What changed was how I came to my practice. How I came to my work. How I showed up in my life.
I came to it less devoted, more conflicted. I allowed myself to think about other things that I could be doing or getting done because of something ‘new and exciting’ that had come into my life. What happened from there is, I dropped the thing that sustained me in the name of time management, priority, opportunity, and giving myself a break.
I continued showing up for my practice, albeit a much shorter one, because it was a commitment I made to myself. I was also slightly afraid to leave it because, after all, it did profoundly change my life, and this was definitely better than not showing up at all. But I wasn’t really there. And showing up was sometimes a real drag because I was just going through the motions.
There are levels of devotion.
I am, as most mothers are, devoted to my kids. I love them unconditionally. I get up and take care of them when I am not feeling well and had only a few hours of sleep. No matter how bad it is outside, and how much I am not feeling it, I still take them to, and pick them up from, school. No matter how tight my budget, I find the resources to give them what they need.
When I practice true devotion, I don’t simply go through the motions. I pay attention to them. I dialogue and engage with them like nothing else matters. It makes motherhood that much more enjoyable and sustainable. I don’t ask myself, how much longer can I juggle this? Or, is it bedtime yet? Instead, I say, I love my kids. I love my life. And I mean it with every cell of my body.
One thing that I know about relationships is that in order for me to have a chance at successful ones, I need to come to them whole. No one, or nothing, else can make me whole. Only I can do that. When I can do that, I have a chance at success (joy).
So how can I mother myself into wholeness and stay there? How can I make myself sustainable?
I can, yes, feed myself nourishing foods because the foods that we eat certainly do have an impact on us. Beyond that, I can practice devotion. Devotion makes slippery slopes less slippery.
Devotion had always been the crux of my practice, and I had forgotten. Thank you, Bhakti, for reminding me. Any other reason for doing my practice had made the side benefits (like clarity, equanimity, restfulness, good memory, strong immune and nervous system) more allusive. Without devotion, anything we do is like doing something in order to find, for instance, a boyfriend. You might feel like you are getting close to attaining your desire, but then it slips through your fingers.
When you aren’t looking; when you are paying attention to what you already have, when you practice good stewardship and gratitude (devotion)… guess what happens? Sustained energy. It’s kinda like that. And voila! No more coffee.
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” –Audre Lorde
September 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
My 16 year old daughter teaches me so much on many levels.
This is Labor Day Weekend– a long weekend to soak up the last bit of summer before school starts back up for good. What does she do?
On Friday night, while I was out and trying to check in with her, she does not respond to my texts, which is unusual for her. I asked a neighbor to check in on her, and he finds her at the dining room table doing her homework. She left her phone in her room so she would not be disturbed by all the snapchats and group texts. This is to get homework out of the way so she is not cramming on Monday.
On Saturday afternoon, she goes to the library to take her 4 hour ACT review test (which she will go over with her tutor that she asked for). She cries all the way there because she’d rather be doing just about anything else. But I am not the one making her do this– she is.
On Sunday, she sleeps in, binge watches on Netflix, spends time with her dad, and then enjoys an evening with her friends (she takes my car).
Today– it is almost noon on Labor Day, and she is still sleeping. She plans to take her 4 hour SAT review test. Next Sunday, she meets with her tutor for the first time to go over the results to identify her strengths and weaknesses.
She feels a great sense of relief that she has two important things accomplished already, and that she can sleep in today, allowing her to move through this week without the monster things that many of us would procrastinate on looming over her head. I know that, at her, age, and maybe even now, I would have saved all that work to the end, and that this day would have been met with complete dread.
Some might call her Sunday activities of “rest and relaxation” Self-Care. While it was an important way to replenish and maintain balance, I think, however, that the other stuff that required true discipline was the actual Self Care. Self Care was doing things she didn’t want to do that had to get done in order to keep moving forward in her life as she wanted it to unfold. As she knocked them out in the luxury of her own terms (rather than last minute when options diminish), her Self Care not just worked to build on her character, but made her feel unencumbered and accomplished, allowing her to enjoy fully the moments of rest and play, completely entitled to them and free from justifications. I bow to her.
July 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
It makes us feel significant.
It makes us right.
It breaks up the boredom.
It distracts us from the real things we can be facing.
It keeps us where we are, which may not be great, but it’s familiar.
Some of the above.
All of the above.
Through yoga we elevate our awareness.
Through meditation we change our negative mental chatter.
Through right action we affirm ourSelves.
Through continuous practice, we cut the drama.
And we find peace.
July 14, 2014 § Leave a comment
What do you want, Savitree?
asked my coach many years ago. I looked at him without a clue. I had been practicing yoga and other spiritual disciplines long enough, and I had gotten pretty good at not wanting or being attached.
“I want to serve.”
Do most of us know what service really means? For those of you who consider yourself really good at serving, how good are you at taking care of (serving) yourself? And how sustainable and impactful do you believe one can be at serving others if one can’t serve oneself?
“That’s too big. What does Savitree want?”
Two weeks later, I came back with a list of wants. Some on my list were things that I worked hard not to want. I was concerned. My coach was happy. “I’ve created a monster!” he says.
And that was good?
He advised not to judge my desires as right or wrong. Just to always know what I want.
When our commitment is spiritual alignment, the desires that need to drop off will do so on its own. Remember that what you resist persists. Eventually, the relationship to those objects (of concern) will shift.
Doing so will help you to get back IN control. Knowing what you want and why informs your path, and that will serve you in the long run. Judging your wants may create obstacles to fulfillment.
Let’s go to another place to get out of control: communication! Stop the nice-nice when it is not authentic. People see through it anyway.
communicate and express yourself in the moment. Because there is only The Moment.
I invite you to play a little bit. Speak truth, and speak directly. Please remember that truth is kind and direct. Speak only what elevates. Our friends are not dumping grounds for our monkey minds. Speak immediately. There is no time like the present. Unless you are hijacked by your emotions; then give it up to 24 hours. If that is the case, you might want to create accountability for yourself and say something like: Hey, I need to talk to you about ____, but at the moment I am blind-sighted by my emotions, and it wouldn’t be an intelligent conversation, so could we discuss this tomorrow morning? Whether you follow these suggestions or you decide to stuff and internalize, please note that they will all come out anyway. And if you decide to express bluntly in the name of truth, then you may wish to ask yourself if it is working for you and for those around you. Our desire is to strengthen direct communication and manifestation and not sideways, passive aggressive hell, which promotes confusion and indecisiveness. Directness, personal relevance and kindness feeds clarity and peace.
Mistakes are allowed. It’s how we grow. Discover your wants. Speak up. Eventually your words will come out the way you want them to, and your desires will take true form.
Loving me and you, Savitree
June 24, 2014 § Leave a comment
*There is a way through every block.
What does this sutra mean to you?
In our Mantra Meditation and Discussion group, some observed that
when surrender happens, the way through every block appears.
Once we get over the Western notion of attaching surrender to losing, there can be a great sense of relief on a number of levels. Yet, what surrender looks like is still not always clear, making it a rich topic of discussion.
The way(s) through every block is always available. We don’t see them because we resist rather than surrender.
Surrender is not being passive. To me, passive is giving up. Surrender is the ground source of power. It is the how to in going with the flow. It is following the flow of the Universal current; going up the up escalator, and down the down escalator.
Think surfing the wave. In order to ride that wave successfully, we must pay full attention and respond accordingly. It is a dance between surfer and the waves. There is no time to process and think about what others will think about our next move. We must simply stay present, intuit, trust in ourselves and act. That is surrender. When we resist and second guess, the waves throw us off and we fall.
Surrender is an active participation with the flow of the Universe.
“Obstacles” appear as conflicts in our lives because we are in duality. When we let go of duality, we let go of drama. Surrender brings with it a great sense of relief because it frees up our inner resources to ride the wave fully and get to where we want to go. Fast.
That is our shortcut.
May 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
How many different emotions are there?
The answer is all over the board. I’ve read that there are as many as 7000 emotional expressions, and depending on the source, anywhere between 4 and 14 basic or irreducible emotions.
Yoga says that all emotions fall under (or can be reduced to) one of two categories: Love and Fear.
I shared this image on last week’s post, and I share it again because it is a relevant and important topic that touches everyone regardless of age, race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, economic status, academic intelligence, or level of enlightenment. It is highly impactful because fear does not stay contained within one individual — it ripples.
Fear can be a great friend. It helps us survive when danger is present. Our body goes into fight or flight mode to give us the adrenaline, will and inner strength to respond accordingly.
Often, however, we are not in imminent danger, and we mistake fear for Truth (Love). We go into fight or flight thinking we are responding accordingly. We make false evidence real. And we do an excellent job enrolling others in our story and finding experts who can support our evidence.
How do we know the difference between false evidence and truth? Below are some questions to ask yourself. Listen to your body (rather than your head). If you find yourself needing to process, consider that you might be needing the time to gather false evidence. Truth is (in most cases) spontaneous:
- do you point at things outside of yourself as reasons why something is not working?
- do you believe that eliminating things in your external environment will make things better?
- do you recognize and own your current capacity to manage what is in front of you?
- do you ask for help? Or do you try to control the situation?
- how often do you feel in flow, versus how often do you feel the need to process?
- what is your relationship with transparency and sharing?
Emotions are God-given faculties. Rather than being an inconvenience, they shine light on the work we must do. And often, they shine light on what is absolutely working!
When fear is harnessed, they can act as guides to help us stay on our path. Emotions give us that extra push, will and inner strength to respond according to what is happening before us; to stretch us beyond our current capacities and into our next most radiant Self. Like a dashboard of a car– if the pointer points to empty, it simply means we need to feed it more gas. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with us. Or that someone else did something to make it happen. Fear is the fork in the road that asks us to make the next choice: Love or more Fear. Often, the scary, vulnerable, out-of-control thing is love; the controlling thing is fear.
April 28, 2014 § 3 Comments
Have you ever stopped to think why, when you start to get a little ungrounded (though you may not see it yet), someone tells you to breathe? And does that suggestion make you insane?
Our breath is the bridge between our physical body (perceptions, the finite) and our Soul (Truth, the infinite).
We can live out our lives never thinking about the breath, and our body will automatically breathe for us… though we risk having stressors dictate how we breathe– shallow and erratic. Without the full inhale, the life force that is carried through the breath will not reach below the diaphragm to move through and release the stress that is held there, and without the full exhale, we leave the stale air in our lungs leaving little space for fresh air to come in.
We live the way we breathe.
When we experience staleness in our day, and in our lives, changing the breath to make it full and complete can offer the freshness it needs to move forward and up. It can’t hurt to try– it doesn’t cost a dime, and the upside is limitless. It keeps us grounded and connected to something bigger than what we see before us.
Need a pranayam (breathing exercise)? Try this. Let me know how it works for you!