Saturday, December 26, 2009

Shakti

"the creative power of the Self that animates the entire universe, seen and unseen."
www.oztantra.com/index.php

"the energy of the Divine that awakens the spiritual potentials of humanity. It is also called the Grace-Bestowing Power of the Divine, descent of the Holy Spirit, Light Immersion, Baraka, or Shaktipat."
www.mudrashram.com/glossarypage.html

"Shakti is the feminie aspect of divinity. Shakti is the life giving force essential for procreation."
hinduism.suite101.com/article.cfm/glossary_q_to_s

The shakti is the feminine face of God. In Hindu lore she is the consort of Siva (the masculine face on God). She is the manifestation of creative energy.

So, yesterday Steve and I took our dog Dori on a walk through the trails near our home. I was telling Steve how these walks are one of my favorite things to do with him. The trails in our neighborhood feel like we are far away in the mountains and I immediately notice myself become more grounded when I walk them.

Dori is so delghtful on these walks. She has that little nose to the ground and she is so excited she can barely keep from galloping away. You can just see her little body light up. It brings me so much joy.

You may be wondering why I began this with Shakti definitions . . .
Well, Steve and I were talking about how fun she is to watch and Steve says, "she is so full of Shakti." So simple, but so profound: she is totally aligned at that moment and she just glows (yes, even through her gorgeous black fur). We talked about how we were naturally delighted in her because she is aligned with the One. When anyone is aligned with the One, they are in the Shakti. We are intrinsically drawn to the beauty of this Essence. That is what we were seeing in Dori. This is why we all delight in babies, in our pets, in the bird's song.

So, may I remember how effortlessly, how joyfully she sets about her life. She steps right into the Flow without question, without doubt. She KNOWS IT is always there.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wednesday, December 23rd and flamingos

So today is our travel day from Hawaii. Steve and I have spent a glorious 10 days reveling in the lush, exquisite beauty here and enjoying one another's company. This morning we drank coffee and watched some flamingos unfold into a new day. (As a side note . . . I don't know that flamingos even belong in Hawaii but we are spending our last night in a Disneylandish hotel that has a beautiful outdoor water feature with, sadly, lots of contained wildlife). These flamingos began to wake up and unfurl their delicate necks. Then, I swear, they were playing like my dogs do . . . kinda nipping at one another, provoking one another to engage in play. One stretched it's magnificent wings and displayed a deeper, more provocative pink. I thought to myself how God's glory never ceases to reveal itself. I could go on and on about the beauty of their knobby knees and their sweet pink webbed feet . . .
Whoever invented those plastic flamingos seriously missed the mark. But, I digress . . .

I had the honor of attending several Anusara classes with the powerful and profound teacher, Skeeter Tichnor. Skeeter so eloquently reminded us that the guru lives inside us. As an extrovert I managed life by turning outwards to survive. This worked, in many ways, for a long time. No longer, Don't get me wrong. I will always be an extrovert and I LOVE people and being social. However, it is in my center that strength resides. As the sage Bhagavan Nityananda said, "The heart is the hub of all of sacred places; go there and roam."

We had the pleasure of attending an event with Saul David Rae and friends, Sri Sakti Activation in Haiku. It was a night of praising the divine mother through puja, kirtan, dance. It was lovely and a definite high point for Steve and myself. There was a time of offering intention and it came very clearly to me that my work this year is in supporting myself in the deepening of my relationship with my own heart and the power that resides within.

Winter Solstice marks the 12 days of Light as we journey towards Epiphany. In the Christian tradition this is marked by the birth of the Christ child. In the Pagan tradition this is celebrated by the coming of the Light within and without.

No matter what tradition we celebrate, we have the honor of being able to reflect on this past year during these 12 days. This is also the time of cultivating our heart's work for the New Year.

May we be sensitive and open to the epiphanies that are always opening to us and may we be open to seeing and embodying them.

Remember, New Year's Day practice and intention setting at 5 Points Yoga with me. WWW.athensfivepointsyoga.com to register, 10 a.m.-noon

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thursday, 12/10

Today is my beloved, Steve's, birthday. After attending the class I usually teach at the Y (Henry taught today!) I got a massage from my dear friend Anne. Then we spent the rest of the day celebrating Steve's birthday. Thank God for small favors, Steve went with me to get a pedicure. He let the woman paint his toe nails clear which was a first. We took a hike around the trail that circles our community with Dori (our dog/child)-it was lovely. The trail goes by the river and it is so full and shimmery. We walked down towards the dam to investigate the mysterious mini falls like excited kids.

I loved exploring when I was a little girl. Today in yoga I was committing to the continuation of this adventurous exploration of my inner forests. When I was little this was the most wonderful and exciting prospect in the world--entering unknown landscapes. May each of us continue to grow in the exploration and discovery of our own heart terrain.

I will not be posting again until after Christmas and hope to have some wonderful experiences to share with you from our time in Maui. While we are there we will see Krishna Das at a kirtan and, of course, we will hike, practice yoga and attend an Anusara class or two, play on the beach and relax relax relax! Hopefully we will meet some whales too.

I hope to see you in the New Year's Day practice I will be leading at 5 Points Yoga. Practice will be all levels, 10 a.m.-noon. This special practice is themed, "Setting intention in an abundant world". Join us in a fun, lively practice while we set conscious intention for the birth of this new year.

Remember to breath. Remember your goodness. Holiday love, Shannon

Monday, December 7, 2009

worthiness

Hello

This beautiful verse from the Radiance Sutras, as translated by Lorin Roche, is what I read from tonight in 6 p.m. class. Thanks to each of you beautiful yogis who attend this class. I feel a strong sense of community and enjoy you so much. We will continue our work on sirsasana 2 and bakasana to sirsasana 2 and back to bakasana.

*See this shining example with Desiree Rumbaugh:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NSJRl965P4

What fun! Melt your sweet hearts as we journey into holiday season friends.

May each of us continue to allow the lotus petals of our own hearts unfold.


"The One Who is at Play Everywhere says,
There is a space in the heart where everything meets.
Come here if you want to find me.
Mind, senses, soul, eternity - all are here.
Are you here?

Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart.
Listen to the song that is always resonating.
Give yourself to it with total abandon.

Quiet ecstasy is here -
And a steady, regal sense
Of resting in a perfect spot.

You who are the embodiment of blessing,
Once you know the way,
The nature of attention will call you to return.
Again, and again, answer that call,
And be saturated with knowing,
'I belong here, I am home.'"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

on our heart and soul's work-and the Athens rockin' yoga community

Of the many gifts I have been given in this life, the opportunity to teach and practice yoga is among the best. There was a time in my life when I thought I would never know what I was going to do with my life. That I would never be able to find my heart's true desires. My soul's work.

One of my dear friends, Shea, said, "Shannon, why don't you pray? Ask for help". Well, I wasn't even sure there was anything out there and even if there was I doubted it would help me. I was sure there was something wrong with me and that I was so different from everyone else that I would not hear even if an answer did come my way. But Shea said, "Just fake it 'til you make it . . . act as if you believe". She said, "all you have to be is even the tiniest bit willing and you will receive help".

Despite my abiding sense that I was doomed and different, I did have some willingness in my heart and so I called out to the Universe for help.

Now here's where the miracle happens. It didn't happen in my time necessarily and it didn't look like I thought it would. IT WAS BETTER. In fact, it was perfect for me. It came in the form of yoga. Above all things I desired a way to relate to God and I wanted meaningful direction for my life's work. Yoga came like a sweet kitty cat curled up on my doormat. It was offered to me like a gift for the taking.
I partook (is this a word?) casually. I knew there was something here for me and perhaps that was part of my hesitation. I remember being scared to be that quiet with myself.

My yoga journey began tentatively. It took me a several years to really dive in. Once I gave myself over I was amazed. Then Anusara came my way. In this school of yoga I find that I align so easily with the philosophical, physical and emotional principles. My life feels so rich and full.

Although this is not what I intended to write about I must have needed to. As the New Year approaches and we move towards our celebration of dying to the old and being born into the new may each of us remember the unending hope that is offered to us always. The One is there. Grace flows full and free. All we have to do is be but willing. When we align with the energy amazing things happen.

Now, quickly, I want to shout out to the ever growing Anusara kula (community) in Athens, GA. The other day I was checking people in and I could see into the yoga room. Everyone was chatting and catching up. I feel so happy to see this sweet group supporting themselves and one another through practice and community. I am so excited to continue our growth together.

With joy~

Sunday, November 22, 2009

God chose to embody as you

One of the philosophical teachings of Anusara is that we are intrinsically good. Something in me yearns to believe this. I think it is one of the things that drew me to Anusara as a philosophy. The yoga practice should help the practitioner feel good about him or herself; to see the beauty that shines from within.

The creation story from a tantric perspective (this is VERY simplified)is that God chose to manifest as you and me. We are each purposeful creations of the One so that the One can experience Itself through us. Kinda cool huh? God DELIGHTS in you and me. Right now. Just as we are! Notice there is not anything in there about messing up or not doing "it" right. The tantra teaches that our worthiness is not earned, nor does it have to be repaid or "kept" by certain duties. It just is. Period.

Recently I have become aware of many of my dreams coming true. Often, actually always, these dreams are coming true in a bigger and better way than I could have ever imagined on my own. I am spending time in gratitude for all these gifts and have also noticed this twinge of doubt coming up. It plays something like this: "Ahh, this is just a fluke. Don't get too comfortable." And, to my horror, "You are not really good enough to deserve this. Soon everyone will realize this and "it" will end."

Simply being who we are is of delight to the One who made us. How cool would it be if, instead of trying to be someone, something else that I think I should be, I relished in knowing more fully who I am? If I spent time just knowing myself more fully? It is my belief that by celebrating my intrinsic worth that I am participating in a worshipful activity. If the Divine created me then why would I, how could I, want to diminish myself?

As I write this I see that God has given me my resolution. It is time to know my worth. It is time to stand in my goodness and truly soak up the abundance that Grace offers all of us. Wanna join me?

"Coincidentally" I cam across this sight, soundsoflight.com, and read the following:

You have only to allow yourself to connect to the worth you are, that you may then know all of the infinite ways your value to life truly contributes to the spiritual collective. Believe your worth is infinite just by being who you are, and life will provide you with an abundance of resources, and in that you will know in every way that the physical world has heard your claim that you are a priceless being and you will stand for no less in life than complete and total abundance in every way that will provide complete happiness for you. See the value you are, know it, feel it, believe it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

this precious breath

My friend's husband lost his best friend last night. I am washed with the tenderness of remembering mortality. My heart hurts for my friend's loss. There is joy here too. For the bitter sweetness that comes with opening my heart and knowing love.

I have been thinking all day about this precious breath that you and I are breathing in and out. We are not guaranteed the next.

Here is my prayer, my invocation, for my life and to honor the life that ended early:
may I soak up each jeweled ray of the sweet moon
may I rejoice at the beguiling scent of the gardenia
may my heart dance with delight as I listen to my fiancee "talk" to our fat cat Mazzy
may I relish, truly drink up all the goodness that abounds in my life-the treasured friends, family, teachers and students that Grace me with their presence.

May I remember to kiss the earth as I bow in gratitude for the gift of this precious breath.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Playin' Big and 2 special birthdays

First, a big shout out to two of my fav students: Carolyn H and Henry P celebrated birthdays yesterday. What a wonderful year this will be!

Yesterday's, 7.30 a.m., mixed levels class was awesome. It is so exciting to see this group grow! I feel like we are really making progress with the principles of alignment and it shows in the beauty of practice. It is so fun to watch people's practices grow and change. Lia is on the cusp of Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand), Eric's hamstrings are opening. So exciting and such a joy to share in the sweetness of connecting with one's Self.

One of the main tenants of the Tantra is that we are all Shiva. God chose to manifest itself as each of us so that he/she could delight in him/herself. How cool is that?!?! I love that each of us is here as an expression of the divine One. The great dance of consciousness is ours to partake in.

We can each rejoice in the beauty of life. We create beauty by consciously choosing to know ourselves more fully.

For many years I was terrified that I would never know what the deepest desires of my heart were. However, as we know :-), prana follows intention, and the desires of my heart, my soul's work here did reveal itself. Now, the big work is choosing to step into that which is revealed to us.

A benevolent Source supports us in living big. The 1st universal principle of alignment in Anusara Yoga is Open to Grace. This means we step into the flow. We set foundation and we tap into and nourish the Light that lives within us. When we pay attention to and nourish the Light of the One that lives within us we begin the journey of co-creating with the Great One Heart. As the great hip/hop artist Nelly says, "Do you wanna go and take a ride wit me" (yes, I think I am funny :-)), so the One invites us to move into the flow and live Big. Let's Go!


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,

talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of

God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,

we unconsciously give other people

permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,

Our presence automatically liberates others.”

—Marianne Williamson

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Prana follows attention

The idea that prana follows where our attention is directed is a profound and powerful yogic teaching. This truth was brought to the forefront of my mind the other day when I was reading Anusara teacher, Christina Sell's fab blog. In it she says, As far as I can tell, all yoga has ever been about is harnessing attention, about managing energy and about consciously choosing what we are going to do with our energy, with our vital force, once we gain access to it.


So, here is the deal: we are all given the power to harness the life force and direct it towards that which we desire to manifest. My teacher, John Friend, says one of the reasons we practice asana is to cultivate a strong vessel (our bodies) to contain more prana.

Think about what happens with the news all the time. Fear sells. We get scared and then we focus our attention on all the bad stuff that could happen and then we are ruled by fear. Often there are people who benefit from our fear, we plug into them so we can stay "safe", to find out more about what we need to do to protect ourselves, what bad stuff is coming.

Now, what if, through becoming intimate friends with ourselves, and by making space for the truest desires of our hearts and souls to show themselves to us, we purposefully focus our energy and attention? Can you imagine? What if this is what all parents taught their children when they began to share their hopes and dreams?

Setting a sankalpa (an intention) is a practice that helps us consciously step into the flow of Life. What, at this time in your life, do you wish to plant and nourish with your attention?

"You are what your deep driving desire is; as your desire is, so is your will." - The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Monday, November 2, 2009

Unwavering

John was speaking to a class this weekend while they were in a balance pose. He told them something one of his teachers, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, told him. Gurumayi said, "John, to find balance why don't you look within your heart to the place that is unwavering."

I love this. Anusara suggests that within each of us is EVERYTHING. We must look within our own hearts to find what we are looking for. Isn't it amusing how much we get busy, stay crazy with work, etc. and forget the fertile garden that lives within us? Yoga practice is a powerful way to begin to enter the space of the heart. It is my experience that we must also feel deeply, pay attention to these sensations and spend time in quiet meditation in order to truly enter into this space.

What if every human being spent a few moments every day bowing inward to the altar of their own heart? What if each of us, YOU AND ME, made it our top priority to have a relationship with the unwavering space in our hearts?

On the scale of yogis throughout time I am a baby beginner yogi and meditator. And still, the small bit that I have spent time listening, really listening to my heart has brought amazing results. Not only am I generally more satisfied with my life, but life seems to offer itself with such beauty and delight to me. It doesn't mean that I don't have painful feelings and experiences, it doesn't mean that I don't get angry and say stuff that I regret. It does mean that all those things are lessening because I am more conscious of them, and I am willing to step into the feeling so that I can find a new way and continue to heal and grow. Mostly, and this is the part I always doubted, it does mean that the true desires of my heart are coming and have come to me. I do have to be willing to take risks, but I find that if my attention is directed to this "still, small voice" within my own heart all comes.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Transfromation-the offerings of Winter Solstice-And John Friend in New Orleans!

I am beginning this blog in New Orleans. My friend, Rachel, and I have traveled here to see John Friend. Last night John gave a dharma talk on the origins of Halloween in the Celtic tradition of Samhain.

This time of the year is auspicious as it is the junction place between Autumn Equinox, when night and day are equal lengths, and Winter Solstice, when the dark becomes prevalent. During this time we acknowledge what has been-the bountiful harvest of all that has come to us in the light-and we begin to plant seeds of intention for the germination time in the dark. For it is in the dark that all that is born is created.

Before I continue about this beautiful and powerful holiday, I would like to interject my own relation to this particular time. Recently I have been grieving and celebrating a death of a part of myself. A challenging situation presented itself and through this situation I saw a part of myself that reacts to situations that seem scary or threatening in a way that is no longer of service to me. There was a time when it did serve me, but now it only blocks me from the Flow and my ability to share in Love and intimacy with others as deeply as I desire. When I get into this old reaction habit I forget my own intrinsic worth, I forget that I am being supported by Source no matter what, and I forget my own power.

It was really painful to see this part of myself so clearly revealed, and yet, it was also a profound and joyous revelation. I got that I would truly be okay no matter what happened. I came to a new knowledge of my own goodness and value. I feel this new delight in me. A trust appeared from deep within my own heart that I have not known before. Even in the anger and grief that I was feeling I knew that all there was for me to do was act with integrity and hold tightly to the glowing mid line of my own heart. And truly, the Great Heart, would continue to support me. AMAZING! Grace is what we are guaranteed.

So, back to John. I am going to hi-lite a few points he made that were particularly meaningful to me:

-The dark has been given a negative connotation. A duality of light=good/dark=bad
In the way of the tantra dark is of the One too. This world that we live in is one of contrast all pulsing from the same Auspicious Source of goodness and beneficence. In fact, it is the dark, that transformation occurs. Think of a yoga class where you are stretching and working in a way that actually breaks down tissue. Then, at night when you are asleep, the reconstruction, the rebuilding, occurs. Isn't that wonderful!

I will end with this:
John said,
We can look back and bathe our hearts in gratitude for all that this past year has presented us with-the challenges, the insights I have gained, the revelation that has come to me. Then, I consciously plants the seeds for this time of darkness. What is it that we see for our lives in the coming year? What do we wish for our families, our partners, our friends.

In the black, when you close your eyes, there is a vast, open space. You can paint your vision for the future. This is true magic.