Category: Yoga/Mindfulness

Difficulty & The Lessons We Aren’t Up For

Family Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Difficulty & The Lessons We Aren’t Up For

Oh hello there again, Shit I don’t want to deal with
How’d you find me?
I’ve been hiding from you
Secretly.

I don’t have time for this
It’s early and there’s so much to do
I turn my head and feel a ping of realization
I have it all backwards here

Those things I have to do
Are not my lessons
They are the distraction
From the work

Right here, in the messy fears and tears of those plugged into me
Is the “to do”
The entire freaking list
Is screaming at me
They need me

I breathe and switch gears
How could I have nearly missed this chance again
The chance to show up
The opportunity to change the day

These are the moments I prepare so attentively for
Through mantras and silence and yoga
And they come and then I trip, with disappointment in my heart
But not this time

It wasn’t perfect
But I tried
Grateful for the opportunity
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be a little bit stronger

 

 

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

The Woman I Hope To Be

Identity Inspiration Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

The Woman I Hope To Be

Listening to a snippet of something on NPR yesterday, I heard someone speak of the experience of your older self visiting you. “Wow,” I thought. I know exactly when that has happened to me – both times – yet I never had those words to succinctly describe the experience to myself.

Every day I wake, I have the option to choose my actions, choose my words, choose the food and the information I nourish myself (or deplete myself) with. Each day I can decide – what’s it gonna be today? Do I have the courage, the wisdom, the determination to fuel up or will I choose some form of food disguised as nourishment and some gossip disguised as conversation? The answer varies.

When I see women in their 60s, 70s & 80s who have beautiful gray hair, their eyes have evidence of frequent daily smiles and their yoga clothes tell the story of their lifetime dedication to their practice, I see who I hope to be.

The women who fondly smile at my children and next at me as they gently tell me how it felt like only yesterday that they were where I now find myself. The women who have made decades of wise food choices and have eliminated toxic self-talk and spent time attentively nurturing relationships they value most – these women are who I strive to be.

Not too long ago, it may have seemed more likely that I’d grow up to be more like the Long Island Medium* than a natural loving soapmaker.

I am neither, yet I will always be both. Labels can be limiting because we are all the sum of so many pieces of ourselves.

The future selves that have payed me visits and shared stories of life, love and loss left me feeling aware that no label or outward symbol, whether it be eyeliner or an organic cotton tee from Whole Foods, really matter in crafting how important the inner landscape of love is in defining your life as the woman you were, are and hope to be.

xo,
Marjorie Sarah

*The amount of hairspray and makeup I used to use is alarming. Thankfully, that has ended. CVS & Sephora surely suffered losses for many consecutive quarters. I hope they are doing well again.

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Book Club: The Power of NOW

Books Inspiration Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Book Club: The Power of NOW

Becoming Finders, my book club, met last night. There were laughs and wine and cheese and chocolate…all the staples you’d probably imagine. But there was also insight and listening and sharing and connection – which can feel like a real treat when you find it.

We chose The Power of NOW – A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. A dense read with some very simple advice on how to stay in the “Now” as well as some lengthy mind-bending takes on the mind and the ego.

Tolle is described as a “contemporary spiritual teacher who is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition,” and I like that description because it feels welcoming to me.

I’m not even going to try to summarize the book for you, because honestly, I can’t. It’s engaging, challenged me in a good way and I definitely recommend it if you’re curious to learn more about how time is an illusion, how pms can deepen your spiritual practice or how spending too much time thinking about the past ages you faster than you may like. He pulls on teachings from various traditions. There’s a lot to take in.

I liked how the whole book was basically about mindfulness but I don’t think he used the word mindfulness once.* It seemed creative that he was able to describe mindfulness in 229 pages without using the actual word, however, the book was first written in 1999 and I don’t know that “mindfulness” was a trendy buzzword back then. *Please correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t recall the use of the word.

One of our group’s discussion questions asked if there was a single point or an “ah-ha!” moment for you in the book. For me, that came in chapter 9 which is titled, “Beyond Happiness and Unhappiness There is Peace.” He talks about cycles of life and the section was about success, failure, doing and sickness. Page 183 explains,

“Growth is usually considered positive, but nothing can grow forever. If growth, of whatever kind, were to go on and on, it would eventually become monstrous and destructive. Dissolution is needed for new growth to happen. One cannot exist without the other.”

Wowza. That slapped me in the face. I shared it with the group because we are a group of 6 women, and it often comes up how much we do and how busy we all are. Not in a competitive way, but it’s just our collective nature it seems. So I thought they could relate. I find myself growing a family, growing a soap business, growing and deepening all of the important relationships in my life through continuous work and dedication and lastly, growing fresh herbs in little pots on my porch. All of these things bring me joy, but they all simply cannot continue to grow at all times. I find myself feeling somewhat lost in the down cycle or the wake of a period of extreme growth.

“Your physical energy is also subject to cycles. It cannot always be at a peak…Many illnesses are created through fighting against the cycles of low energy, which are vital for regeneration.”  page 184

I actually love to do nothing, but I often feel like I’m forgetting something important that I should be doing. That makes me think: even though I love to relax, I’m not super comfortable with the idea of it quite yet. I’m so conditioned to do. A great opportunity that I get many times a day is through play with my kids. I actually enjoy playing babies or making up silly games and dances. When I can be in the flow of it, I’m allowing myself to relax. When I feel distracted, I realize that I’m trying to “do” my way out of something and try to refocus.

This book helped me be a watcher of my thoughts and observer of my self. I’m curious to see how the ideas are expanded on in A New Earth. I’ve already checked it out of the library…

Next week I’ll be taking a brief pause from writing as I soak up some sun.

Happy June!

Yoga Made Me Write This Poem

Identity Inspiration Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Yoga Made Me Write This Poem

Post yoga red wine bliss
Where is Sean, where are the kids?
Dinner is done, still on the stove
Listening to the latest John Mayer downloads.

The deeper we go
The higher we climb
Am I losing
Or finding my mind?

You see the path unfold
“It will,”
We’re told
But to see it, feels shocking, still.

What am I afraid of?
Nothing really
I know
Sounds silly

Well, wait, I’ve lied
Wrapping my head around certain things
I’ve tried
It’s tricky and sticky and it really stings.

A magnetic force field for love & goodness
Spins out of control
Did I ask for all of this?
Is that all?

Be careful what you wish for
It will come true and you will be you
Happiness holds mystery and love at it’s core
Keep your truth, never the score.

Namas Day

Community Inspiration Self-care Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Namas Day

The first time I attended Namas Day, it was at West Chester University and Meadow was just 5 months old. I’d never driven to West Chester and Meadow was still nursing every other minute so Sean came along and agreed to hang with the kids so that I could take some yoga workshops. It was a SUNDAY in the FALL (he missed football for this). And that is where the love affair began.

Namas Day took my yoga practice to the next level. Not because I could do handstands (still can’t) or crow (still don’t). But because it shifted everything energetically for me. The sense of connection and unity that radiates from the entire event blows me away each time.

I’m repeatedly amazed by the teachers and their perspectives, I frequently break out in tears at the end of a class because the power of love is overwhelming and I also transformed immensely at one particular workshop the spring after the fall football Sunday at West Chester.

All it takes is one amazing human. One beautiful soul to challenge you to push you to your yogi edge and plant a seed and visually grow into who you know you are meant to be. That happened on my mat alongside a dear friend one warm April afternoon. I’ll never forget the deal I made with myself that day. It has altered my path in ways I could not comprehend prior to the agreement.

So I return for a fifth time this spring. We’ll meet in Philadelphia and bow and bend and laugh and cry. Together and alone. I’ll shop the amazing marketplace and sip kombucha with people that inspire and uplift me. I find myself wishing this event happened more often, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be as special if that were the case. It’s worth the wait.

Being Open While Saying Goodbye to Something Good

Identity Inspiration Motherhood Yoga/Mindfulness

Being Open While Saying Goodbye to Something Good

Sometimes, after a while, a part of us needs to move on. I said the following when I described my feeling to a friend:

It is difficult to step away from a role that I enjoy and has helped me grow so much but I’m certain there is some kind of seed in me wiggling to grow in other directions and I need to give it space. I need to open up that room for my other passions that I love equally…it’s just their turn now!

This role is that of a breastfeeding support person in my community. I consider myself a peaceful breastfeeding advocate. What I mean when I say that is, I support all parents’ decisions in how they choose to feed their babies and I am educated and interested in offering technical and emotional support to women who choose to breastfeed. Having breastfed two children for 4+ years combined, I would not have met my personal breastfeeding goals without a supportive network. I found that support in La Leche League – a non-profit support group for breastfeeding mothers. I loved the group so much that I went on to study and later became a Leader within the organization. Leaders facilitate local discussion/support groups and are required to complete a training curriculum where you study technical aspects of breastfeeding as well as exercises in communication and group dynamic skills.

I was a leader for just under 2.5 years and just this month I resigned. Nothing happened, nothing was “wrong” but there is some kind of seed in me wiggling to grow in other directions and I need to give that seed space.

It just feels a bit strange, this issue of identity always seems to be presenting opportunities for me to learn. Again. I’m guessing you may share these identity issues too, I think we all do. We think we are “someone” or “something” and then it goes away or moves to the left and we are like, hmmmm, now what?

So I take a page out of Justine’s book (my ALL TIME FAVORITE yoga teacher) and explore the idea of BEING OPEN. Again. One January, every week the theme of her yoga class was to be open. This can be particularly difficult in a time of hunkering down and dark, cold, winter days. I choose to be open and curious and excited about the space I’m creating.

We are not the roles we play but the whole of each of us is made up of the various pieces of our lives and activities and roles – big and small. They all add up to the complex, ever-changing person that we are.

Tapping into the mystery

Identity Inspiration Motherhood Self-care Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Tapping into the mystery

Here I find myself in a cafe at the Himalayan Institute tucked in Pennsylvania mountains. I’ve never been away form my children for more than one night at a time and the separation is bittersweet. Having the privilege of mothering them 24/7 blurs the lines at times of where I end and they begin.

As I inch away, I find quiet space to fill but joy in my belly knowing they will be there awaiting my return tomorrow.

I used to use my free time watching tv and drinking way too much alcohol. Last night I used it to go to a camp fire after evening yoga practice and today I spent my precious time attending an early morning group meditation followed by a breathtaking yoga hike with some truly amazing people. Things are different now.

I have no great wisdom to share and no breakthrough insights to reveal but I feel deeper in love with myself, my husband & best friend, and with my children, my greatest teachers. I feel closer to the women with whom I’ve been chatting and laughing and downward dogging. I feel lighter. I feel grounded. That was my goal and I didn’t even realize it.

Inspiration Simplicity Yoga/Mindfulness

see the good

I usually begin my morning meditations with the line, “Fill yourself up with love and compassion, you are a worthwhile and compassionate being.” Sometimes it just feels right and sometimes I need the reminder.

I listen to a lot of personal development content and it consistently reminds me to see the good in everything that comes my way. Most of the time this task comes naturally to me, so I enjoy it. Sometimes I’m consumed with anxiety and all I can see is blurry tension, but those occurrences have definitely decreased in the past few years.

When I’m in line at a store and someone comments on “How scary the world is today,” or “How crazy everyone is,” or “How it’s different today than it used to be,” (and by different they mean terrible) … I just say “Hm.” What I want to say is, “When I look for good and beauty, I see it everywhere.” Or, “Statistically speaking, it’s technically safer these days than it was when my parents grew up, crime rates are actually lower.” Thanks for pointing that one out to me Emily!

I always want to choose to see the good. The good in people, the good in someone else’s words and intentions, the good in the difficult lesson that may be so painful for me to understand or come to terms with. Doing this can be effortless at times, or it can be consuming and exhausting and leave me questioning everything. Regardless, I’m always working to see the good. Operative word = working.

Shine and smile,
Marjorie

Family Inspiration Motherhood Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

How Natural Birth Deepened My Yoga Practice

I’ve always been drawn to yoga, even before I “understood” it. Even when I was in high school I wanted to do it, but wasn’t sure what it was all about. I know I practiced yoga when I was younger, but it wasn’t until the past couple of years that I’ve felt connected to my practice. And it wasn’t until after I gave birth to my second child that I felt an even deeper connection.

Preparing for natural birth, I read many books and blogs and did a lot of work to prepare my mind. Breath work, and understanding that breathing is a tool to stay present and not fly and wander, was very helpful to me. I believed the tools would help, but it wasn’t until I was living the labor and doing what I’d been so prepared for, did I fully understand what it all meant. I felt like I was mindfulness embodied, for the first time in my life.

Natural labor and birth were both a challenge and a reward. Now when I am in a pose on the mat that I think I can’t tolerate for one more second, I go back to the breath and the patience that I know I have because I experienced it during labor and birth. I think, “Oh, right, I know how to do this, and this is easier than childbirth!”

In addition, Ujjayi breath has helped me calm a fussy baby, sooth a little one to sleep and find my inner stillness. Also something that I don’t think I’d be so in tune with without my natural birth.

I’m simply fascinated! I had no idea that all the work I did to prepare for a natural birth would have rewarded me down the road into a deeper practice.

Namaste!