Body Check

If you’ve been coming to my class or have had a Wellness Assessment with me, you will have heard me asking for a Body Check.

Your body has a lot to say to you, and when it talks, we benefit A LOT by listening to it rather than by dismissing or complaining about it.

The Body Check is taking a moment to pay attention to what’s happening inside of you, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. You don’t have to look hard for it or make something up. You just need to pay attention to what’s calling out at the moment while you are listening. More often than not, your body is calling out, and you aren’t listening.

Here are some examples of what comes up for people when I say, “First thing in the morning when you wake up. Body Check.”

I’m not ready. I dread the day ahead of me.

I’m stuffed up and I can’t breathe.

I feel rested. The morning is the best part of my day.

I feel my lower back pain.

My neck hurts.

I don’t know. When my alarm rings, I jump out of bed and hit the shower and start my day.

In the Wellness Assessments, I ask for a body check at 4 different hours of the day. Regular body checks will give you insight into what’s working and what’s not if you use them for what they are– your guiding system. If you wake up dreading the day, your body is telling you to make a change (i.e. diet, bedtime routine, ruminating thoughts, actions) so that you may wake up feeling good again.

If you’ve been sitting at your laptop for too long, your body may start to feel stiff, and you might feel emotionally cramped. Your body might be telling you that you need to get up, stretch, and drink a glass of water, or get some fresh air. Ignoring these signs, especially over time, will cause the body to stop whispering and start screaming. Or it can go into hiding and it will take a lot more to figure out what’s wrong.

If you take these signs to simply mean that you are aging, or that today just isn’t going well for you, or to complain about the ache, or identify with them in a way that is self-deprecating, then you’ve essentially dismissed your body’s intelligence that is communicating to you that a shift is necessary to move back into wholeness. Its messages are revealing and they wake us up to do something about it. These messages are gifts guiding us towards continuous self-love and self-care. The longer we wait to listen, the more challenging, chronic, urgent and expensive the “prescriptions” for change becomes.

Body Checks require tuning in throughout the day, for as little as 15 seconds, and paying attention to what comes up. The rest will happen on its own, because the more you start paying attention, the better you will hear your body’s messages. The better you hear, the more likely you will listen. The more you listen, the more you begin to trust yourself. The more you trust yourself, the better you feel about yourself. There is a cost to not stopping and plowing through the day. Disconnect from the body happens, and choices become artificial and externally oriented. Tune in. Feed the intelligence that is your body. Feed your Soul.

Fate & Destiny

Fate can be looked at as the way the wind blows. If you were on a sailboat, you might be moved according to its direction.  This is where you might say, “Well what could I do? I can’t help the wind.” Or, “How lucky was that??” Fate is the circumstances of your life (the wind) that your soul has chosen to experience in order to grow in this lifetime. 

Destiny is when you use the sail’s rudder in response to the wind to move in the direction you want to go. This is where you understand your own personal power as co-creator. Destiny is your life purpose, and it gives direction. From fate comes the experience, the growth, and the lessons that supports your destiny. 

Try ditching the coffee. Pick up a venti sustained energy instead.

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.

 Love, Savitree.

 “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

What Self Care really looks like

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.

nothing great happens inside the comfort zone

Why the drama?

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.

Get out of control. Let you be you. Seriously.

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.

get out of control

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

The shortcut

*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.

*The 2nd of 5 Sutras of the Aquarian Age: