Prana Shakti, Partnership, Pregnancy, Parenthood, Preparation, Power and Pranams.

My personal Path of Practice:
Prana Shakti
(the creative & pulsating life force within me), Partnership (a love story of two people who consciously choose one another every day), Pregnancy (Grace in my belly revealing herself through this growing baby boy who lives in my womb), Parenthood (The highest calling of them all), Purification (of all self-defining labels accumulated along the way) Preparation (for a new life, a new calling and for the birthing of all this woman has yet to become, experience, learn and know), Power (to fully stand in mine as a wife, mother and creative woman) Pranams (daily gratitude and humble thanks for my beautiful life and blessings along the way).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Accessability through social media & technology. Where's the balance?

When I'm in bed and unable to sleep, I usually pick up my phone and begin lurking around facebook. As a matter of fact, before logging into my blog page to write this entry, I went to facebook. Before that, I was in bed, looking at my phone because there were not 1 but 2 FB icons on my home screen giving me notices. It's become somewhat of a mindless addiction and means to receive all kinds of unnecessary information that is polluting my mind and taking up space that could and should otherwise be used in more productive ways.

The theme of the last few entries have been that of extreme change with an underlying tone of my feeling the deepest need ever to silence myself externally and to create more spaciousness internally. 

For a while I've thought about shutting off the email feature on my phone or going back to a basic, "old school" phone that's designed to use for talking and nothing else. I currently maintain not 1 but 3 different emails (4 if you count facebook email- don't get me started on that...) and while things are slowing down a little as I am transitioning out of teaching in preparation for becoming a mommy, it takes up space creating what Ayurveda calls "deranged Vata" energy. Vata energy is sort of "all over of the place" (think "windy" in the head) and the farthest from grounded. Being a woman of simplicity in many, many ways, I'm tempted to say fuck it and delete all of them just so that I can exhale...not so fast, Sanieh. 

The other day, I got a string of text messages from a number I didn't recognize only to realize it was from Andrew, the guy at the dealership where my husband and I inquired about a new vehicle. I hadn't responded to his voicemails in a timely fashion so he sent me a string of text messages asking me what package we were interested in etc. The assumption here is that we are all available in this way and it's probably safe to say that most are. I certainly have been although I've been conditioning myself not always feel the need to respond and certainly not immediately. Up until about 2 weeks ago, I actually had a voicemail message that stated the fact that I do not check my voicemail regularly nor do I return messages immediately unless there is a sense of urgency. It was my first step to creating space around a habit of being so readily available and reachable. Actually, it was my second attempt. Long before this, I had a similar outgoing message on my business email account. You get my drift though.

All of this to say...

I get that it's somewhat of what I like to call a "positive problem". I'm happy and grateful to have business communications and to be able to receive an abundance of information that the world-wide web offers and of course I'm so grateful to have friends who care about me and are interested in my well being and that of my growing family be it on facebook or email. I really am. But what concerns me is where my energy is going and where more of it should be going. 

I read something recently about how my generation is the first that will be technology driven / dependent parents. I find it both interesting and sad that we can go to a movie or to dinner and almost every single person is on their PDA. It's so not affirming to be with someone who is clearly somewhere else with someone else rather than with me, the person who is in front of them, in the flesh. And as a friend of mine once asked on his facebook page, "what did people do on the potty before PDAs?" Funny... but true.

I am feeling more present in my life than ever right now yet I feel a need for more. 

I feel a need to become more mindful of the things, thoughts, impressions I am filling my head with. So much of what we are receiving and storing in our consciousness is on a subconscious level. 

How can I be a teacher of presence to my child when I'm constantly being pulled out of the present moment and into someone else's life on and off, all day long or allowing myself to constantly be so readily available in so many?

How can I BE present to my child when I've got my phone attached to my hip checking emails and text messages all day long allowing myself to be so available which pulls me out of the here and now? 

So where's the balance in all of this? Where's the balance in being communicative where much of society comes to together while having a strong sense of groundedness in our own lives with our families and loved ones? Where's the balance of being a part of and receiving the many benefits that social media and technology has to offer us without being so readily available to the the world all of the time? Honestly, the only person I need or want to be THAT available to right now is my husband... and my child when he is born. That's it. I really have no need to keep myself so available all of the time. It's my opinion that the notion that I do is arrogant really. I don't know where this balance is but I'm growing desperate to find it. What I know for sure is that I need to turn off all notifications that come in through my phone and seriously limit myself to how much time I spend mindlessly lurking around social media sites. 

I love my friends and I am grateful for facebook in that it has allowed me to stay connected to some people and to reconnect and become friends with people who I might not have otherwise been connected to. I'm grateful for it, I'm just saying that it's served it's purpose. I'm also grateful for technology in geneeral. I'm just feeling like it occupies so much of my energy. 

So, lets talk. 

Give me a call. I'm OK with emailing. Just know that I am freeing myself of the sense of urgency/constant checking of it multiple times a day. And I can even be OK with occasional text messaging  for small, simple things but not for "conversations" and certainly not for anything of significance or importance. I'd honestly rather just talk.

I am SO guilty of all of these things and is my way of taking action to control the one aspect of it that I have the power to control and that's how I choose to use technology and to what extent which results in how available I allow myself to be. 

I honestly cannot tell you how many times I've looked at, checked or messed with my emails today or in any other given 24 hour period of time. Same thing with text messages although that might be a little less on the checking side of it... I do send them quicker than I check them. 

Deep breaths. Pulling more energy inward and minimizing the chaotic energy I'm responsible for creating and letting in around me. Small steps towards a deeper presence. That's all I want, really. I just want to be more present in the here now with those who are in front of me. 

And so it shall be...

Monday, March 19, 2012


Back in 2007, I took a vow of silence and entered into Goenka-ji's lineage of Vipassana Meditation. The course is a commitment. One takes a vow of silence in body, speech and mind for a solid 10 days, turning in all reading and writing materials as well as every piece of technology they might have shown up with. As if this were not intense enough, one also commits to cease, for the entire 10 days, any and all other forms of spiritual practice/prayer/meditation in all forms. While it's compatible, students are even asked to cease yoga asana, in an effort to still the mind and to be able to give full attention and full credit to the tradition of meditation at hand. Furthermore, one is asked to commit to the cessation of all physical forms of activity including but not limited to any and all exercise (walking is allowed) and all expressions of "self-pleasure".

It sounds militant perhaps but each person who shows up knows what is expected of them so the choice is theirs. A final commitment is asked on the evening post dinner, just before we "vow in" and make our first step into the mediation hall. The final commitment is that we do not, absolutely under no circumstances, leave the 10 day course in the middle of it for any reason. When I went, there were at least 2 people that I know of that couldn't handle it and were taken through a very slow exit process so that everyone was ensured that all mental, emotional and psychological windows that had opened up, could be properly "secured" before letting these individuals roam free in the world again.

It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I would certainly say that one has to be in the right place and right frame of mind in their life to be able to commit to such a thing of course. More so, one needs to be willing and able to have a long, cold and very quiet look at themselves in the mirror. For this reason, there is somewhat of a screening to make sure people who are depressed or have any kind of mental disordered not attend. While the external circumstances are extremely quiet, meditating for eleven hours a day (Yes, eleven.), for 10 days straight, can seem pretty damn loud in one's thinker if you know I mean.

Since having attended and learned this particular style of meditation (we spent the first 3 days preparing for the meditation with a different one mind you) as it was intended in it's original form and lineage (there are other ones out there that claim to be the same but lack the around the clock complete vow of silence which dilutes the teachings at best according to their origin and Goenka-ji himself), I have sent a few student-friends who inquired to experience it themselves. Because of how the teachings are passed on, my interests are not in trying to share what I learned through such in depth time, study and of course, application of practice then and since then, but I will share a few morsels of what I picked up from that time that have a direct impact of my life, more so now than ever before.

Every evening there was a "teacher's discourse" where the facilitator, one of Goenka's long time students, would play recordings of his and his teachings for us to apply over the next 24 hours. Even so, there were few words, very little talking or even instruction and hours and hours of time to "practice".

I can still hear the sound of his voice as he would so smoothly repeat, "Anicca...Anicca...Changing...Changing..."

This made such an impact on me during the course that I tattooed a reminder on my wrist.

One of the many languages of the Buddha was Pali. The course, for the most part, is in Pali. Anicca translates as "changing" much like Anitya in Sanskrit translates as "impermanence". For me, Anicca is my life's reminder that it's all changing. Be present, right now. The time IS Now. Nothing stays the same forever. It's sort of the proverbial string around the finger when I think about it that is always there whispering "remember...".

So many things are changing in my life right now. I have feelings about them but mostly I'm more in the seat of observation that ever before. Something happens when there's a deep knowing that it's time for change and/or that it's necessary. As I enter into my last week of regularly schedule public classes (see the previous post) so that I can take some much needed personal time over the next few months, I know that never again will my life as I have known and experienced it be the same. While tendency can be to put meaning of "good" or "bad" to such a thing, it's nowhere on my radar to do so, but there IS reflection.

I moved back to Austin in 2007 with a fire under my butt to make this work. I was committed to teaching yoga and to do so for a living, to become debt-free and to be able to have and do the things I wanted in life-travel the world on behalf of my "job" in particular. As life would have it, I did just that. By many standards (most importantly, personal ones), I created, from nothing but a dedicated heart, a successful career for myself. As a teacher-friend of mine once said about the upside to what we do, I was able to "live a rich man's lifestyle in traveling the world, making my own schedule and calling the shots" for the most part. I came here to do something, worked hard and accomplished pretty much all that I set out to do. Over the years there were re-evaluations of what it was that I thought I wanted or what I thought was important but at the end of the day, what truly mattered was accomplished and anything I can think of that was not, was all egocentric and meaningless when it comes to down to it anyway.

Knowing this, I let go. 
I say "thank you". 
And I rest.

Reflection is required for me to take a few deep breaths so that over the next few months I can sit in front of the alter of possibility that is the blank canvas of my life. Pictures are already being painted on this canvas and they include my new husband and our new home we are about to close on and move into; the very home I intend to give birth to child in and the very home a family will grow roots in. The details have yet to be filled in just as the colors of my reinvention have yet to reveal themselves but all in good time.

It's all changing.

As a long time student of yoga and a student first and foremost long before and long after being a teacher, I am reminded that there is more.

As I enter into my third trimester of pregnancy and begin to quiet the external dialog and open doors that have remained unopened into the invisible landscape of all that's true and possible in the sea of the illusions of thoughts, self-definitions, labels, new inspirations and aspirations and so much more, there's a little bit of uncertainty but for the first time ever, I'm without a sense of clinging or attachment.

"Anicca. Anicca. Changing. Changing." 

Every part of me is in expansion right now...

It's all new each day. I had incredible energy in my second trimester and I feel the shifts as I find myself closer and closer to birthing this baby but more than anything else, I just want to stop the external dialog and use other, more creative ways to express what I'm processing right now. There is a relief and a deep sense accomplishment almost in honoring this instinctual desire to take some personal time, retain some of the energy that I'm so use to giving and slow down a little bit now.

I'm excited about motherhood.
I'm excited to see my husband become, and grow as, a father.
I'm excited about recreating myself.
I'm excited about re-evaluating what's important and I want/need to be the best ME for myself and my family.
I'm excited to show up to my gifts, talents and creative juices in a new form with new and growing inspirations.
I'm excited about new direction, inspiration and purpose.

I'm excited that it's all changing. I'm just deeply reflective right now and growing more and more quiet at time goes on...and that's a good thing.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Love Letter to my student-friends


Since becoming pregnant, I had assumed I would teach up until the very end. Today is Monday, March 12th and I am 27 weeks and 2 days pregnant... and I now stand corrected on that self-made assumption.

Physically, I'm going pretty strong and have few discomforts and complaints.

While I definitely feel a big difference in energy and how my body feels today compared to how I felt during the heart of my second trimester, I'm doing well and am so grateful for having maintained this level of fitness through over a decade+ of yoga and 3+ years of CrossFit since long before becoming pregnant. It's helped me in so many ways throughout this pregnancy.

That said, so much has happened that I could not have expected nor planned for. I find myself telling my friends that this entire experience has been far more profound and so much deeper than one could ever imagine before actually being here in this place. About a month ago, there was a shift in the experience of this ever growing and changing body, seemingly overnight. And not too long after that, there was a definite energetic change that had me really wanting and needing to start pulling my energy back in for myself; desiring to speak less and become much more internal in an effort to quiet my mind in preparation for the many intense changes ahead.

For years, I felt defined as a yoga teacher. In truth, I was self-defined as such and it created a lot of pain and suffering for me. A few years ago, I began to explore the possibilities that I may very well be so much more than "just" a yoga teacher. I was determined to prove otherwise and began getting my feet wet as I danced with the unfamiliar and started exploring uncharted territory in the way of other abstract interests, aspirations, dreams and previously unidentified/unexercised gifts and talents. Today, I am so grateful for the work and self-inquiry I did during that time as I joyfully walk in the direction of making this transition out of the classroom and straight into answering the highest teaching calling of them all as I chant "YES!" the entire way.

While I am confident that this body could most definitely teach until the end as I had initially anticipated, I have decided to stop teaching my regular public classes as of the end of March.

The next few months are going to be an exciting time for my family. Beginning with our moving into our new home at the end of this month, then preparing the nursery for the arrival of our son shortly thereafter, followed by some much needed and welcomed personal time intended for grounding myself as I prepare to steep deeply in the yoga of motherhood.

My plans are continue strength training and practicing yoga as it continues to serve my body/mind/spirit extremely well through this beautiful (and often times, crazy) process and I most certainly intend to continue drawing inward while listening intently through a deepening meditation practice, re-exploring my music and doing more birth art.

I still have a few weekend offerings between now and my due date that I intend to fulfill (Nature willing :) and will continue to make myself available for a very limited number of private lessons. (My scheduled weekend workshops/expos can be found on the schedule page of my website.)

I am grateful and humbled for those who have supported my efforts in the Austin yoga community, nationally and abroad, those who continue to reach out and extend teaching invites, the studios who have stood by and have encouraged me to shine my light and undoubtedly, for those who have made ritual of our regular and ongoing practice together over the years.

Because my new focus will be shifted towards that of my family and my own student-ship, right now I have no idea as to if I will resume a "regular/weekly public class schedule" anytime soon. What I can share is that I have begun putting the intention out there to make myself available to continue teaching special offerings in the way of festivals, expos, retreats, teacher training and weekend workshops/clinics beginning sometime in the fall in some shape or form with an emphasis on a musical component + sharing it in the way of accompanying my yoga teacher-friends.

In Sanskrit there is a word, Anitya. In Pali, Anicca expresses the same meaning which translates as "changing" or "impermanence". As I sit in the unknown of what's ahead while feeling my creation kicking and swimming inside my beautifully round, full and expanding belly, what I trust is that It's all changing. I welcome the blessings, gifts and Grace that has been bestowed upon me and I look forward to riding the new waves of this wild and crazy-beautiful journey that is my life!

May we all be happy, peaceful and at ease.
May we all learn to recognize the Guru in its many, many forms.
May we remember to love the Light within ourselves as the all-inclusive love that it is rather than a dualistic notion as something outside of ourselves.
And may we always remember that this Light within ourselves is the very same Light that connects each and every one of us.

Infiniate blessings to you and yours,