A sweet little mandala workshop

I had the honor of leading another mandala workshop this past weekend on behalf of Metta Yoga Studio in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a humble showing of three students, though we still managed to enjoy two hours of yoga and art therapy inside this beautiful studio – while it was scorching hot outside!

Check out this beautiful space. Isn’t the light dreamy?

Few things fill my heart more than witnessing the mindfulness practice that takes place when students draw and color their own mandalas. What an honor to facilitate their journey in this way!

One of the things we practice in my workshops is a silent meditation during the mandala sequence. Oh sure, I have background music going, but we hold the chit-chat, creating a really sweet space for this mindful practice. Students are usually so engrossed in their mandalas this is rarely an issue. {Confession: I’m usually the biggest culprit when it comes to breaking the silence. Oops.}

To occupy my time during the mandala sequence, I draw my own mandala and keep a watchful eye in case I’m needed somehow. Oh my goodness, I love what I do!

Click here to learn more about my mandala workshops and register for an upcoming class.

Oh how I’d love to lead your practice!

Oh my stars! A chance to win a free astrology reading!

It actually makes total sense that I would dig astrology so much. I mean, my sun is in Taurus in the 9th house, and my north node is in the 12th…

Oh… Are you still with me? {wink}

This is a snapshot of Heaven at the very moment I was born. It shows the position of every planet the minute I inhaled for the first time in this life.

I’ve recently completed the second level of Debra Silverman’s Applied Astrology course. I am so grateful for the practical way Debra presents astrology to her students. By studying Debra’s astrology method, I have not only learned about my own chart, but I am in a position of being able to share information with others about their charts. Ah! It’s SO exciting!!!

Being able to read an astrology chart is one of the coolest things I’ve experienced in a long time. I follow Debra Silverman’s philosophy of delivering a reading that is full of affirmations and validations for the person whose chart I’m viewing. There are so many ah-ha moments and times of understanding – “Oh! That’s why I act that way!” and “Wow! That makes total sense!”

 

An astrology reading is such great validation of our personality – those “quirks” are just you being you!

Knowing your moon sign can help you understand your emotional body, and learning about your rising sign can help you understand your soul’s journey.* Knowing where Saturn is on your chart can help you prepare for its transits and eventually, its ‘return.’

Are you curious?

Oh, I would love to read your chart!

 

As I add astrology to my tool box of healing modalities, I’m giving away a few free readings to members of my tribe. If you’d like to enter a drawing to win a free, 30-minute astrology reading, leave me a comment telling me your (sun) sign. I’ll draw a name at random on May 31 and contact you for a reading. You can leave a comment here on my blog, or on my Facebook page under the corresponding post. {click here to go to my Facebook page}

This offering is available internationally as well. We’ll connect via the internet (or phone line) and our session will be recorded. That way, you can participate in our 30-minute conversation and afterwards I’ll send you a link to a recording of our session. it will be so much fun…I hope you win!!!

Signed,
Deb
Sun in Taurus, Moon in Scorpio, Virgo Rising (and proud of it!)

* Rising sign and house placements are available to those who know their time of birth.

May we somehow be of service

“We rise by lifting others.” 
~ Robert Ingersoll

My daughter and I took a little road trip last weekend and headed for Sedona as an early birthday celebration for me. It’s tradition for us to bless our road trips before we pull out of the driveway, and we did that on the morning of our travels.

In our road trip prayers, we always give thanks for the opportunity to travel. We humbly ask for safety for all those sharing the road with us, and I’ll usually throw in a little request for patience with each other – just for good measure. On the morning of our Sedona trip I also added, “May we somehow be of service to others.”

My daughter looked up. “Service?” she contemplated softly. I shrugged and said, “You never know…”

We had safe and happy travels all the way to West Fork Trail in Sedona. It’s a favorite hiking spot for us, and we had plans to create a few nature mandalas along the path.

Not only was it fun to gather and arrange little bits of nature, but it was so fun to hear others as they came upon our mandalas, stopping to appreciate them and take a few photos.

After we had arranged the mandala in the photo above, a couple came along on the path. My daughter and I loved hearing the man say, “Hey! Here’s another one! Do you want to take a photo of this one too?” We smiled to ourselves, neither of us revealing ourselves as its creator. I loved that!

And as we headed back to the parking lot to leave the trail, we saw the man in the next photo, stopping to photograph the first mandala we’d left on our way in.

“This,” I told my daughter, “Sometimes this is what it looks like to be of service to others.”

She looked at me knowingly and understood. In our own simple way we had helped to raise the vibration of others.

Sometimes “being of service” doesn’t mean going far out of our way. It doesn’t mean spending a lot of time or money – it needn’t require great sacrifice on our part. A genuine smile in the right direction, a soft touch on a shoulder, leaving bits of whimsy for others to appreciate… Sometimes that’s enough to lift a spirit ~ including our own.

When we ask to be shown how we might be of service to others, we’ll be amazed at how our calling is revealed.

The other side of surrender

It’s said that we teach what we need to learn, so carrying the same theme for the yoga classes I lead throughout the week has been a great way for me to grow. I’ll introduce the theme in my Tuesday evening class and by the time I reach my Friday morning practice, I’m practically an expert at it. {ha!}

I recently had the opportunity to share the lessons of surrender.

So what does it mean to surrender anyway? To just give up? Throw your hands up and proclaim, “I’m done!”? Well, maybe sometimes it means that…but that wasn’t my lesson plan. My point was more in line with the beloved serenity prayer. Here’s a refresher:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

When we surrender to things we cannot change, we move into a place of peace and harmony within ourselves. I find this to be true on and off my yoga mat.

As we surrender to yoga poses we allow healing on a deeper level. I loved leading my student’s yoga practice with the theme of surrendering to poses; scanning the body for the places where tension is held, and then consciously releasing those holds in order to come into the pose with ease instead of struggle.

Perhaps you’re in a yoga class and the pose that’s being offered just isn’t right for your body. Do you take the shape anyway? And do you hold the shape and struggle in your body and mind for the duration? Or, do you surrender in the kindest of ways, backing out of the pose a bit or taking child’s pose to enhance your practice rather than enduring it?

So many times I’ll witness a student holding poses with so much intensity. I’ll notice tension in their shoulders and arms, and a tight grimace in their facial expression. The desire to create the appearance of strength causes us to overcompensate when, really, our physical strength is already there in the most beautiful and subtle way.

When I witness this physical struggle, I usually offer the simple cue of “relaxing the facial expression” or “allow the feeling of contentment to be reflected in your expression.” By relaxing the face the body usually follows. When we surrender to our current predicament, we are able to come into the moment with more ease and grace. Of course, there’s still effort being exerted, but we approach it in a completely different manner.

Yoga follows us even when we roll up our mats and tuck them away until our next practice. When we struggle with life events – wanting them to be a certain way that they may never be – we create unnecessary tension in our body and mind. When we surrender and let go, we redirect our focus toward peace and contentment. We begin to trust in our personal strength that is already there in the most beautiful and subtle way.

Yoga teaches us to take the right action at the right time. Perhaps surrendering is an action we could all explore on a more regular basis. We learn to change the things we are capable of changing, and we surrender to the things that are beyond our control.

God, grant me the wisdom to know the difference.

Focus on what’s going right.

Keep on the sunny side… Remember that song? I know it sounds like a lofty goal – always keeping on the sunny side – but it’s a habit I’d like to cultivate.

It’s in our human nature to focus on what’s going wrong. And let’s be real, sometimes we must address the challenges amidst the blessings. We notice the things that aren’t going so well as a natural defense mechanism – it’s how we’re designed in order to protect ourselves from danger. We were born this way.

The problem arises when we focus only on what’s going wrong, distorting our vision from the many good things also in the mix.

Do you know someone who always looks on the sunny side of life? I’m fortunate to know a few myself. I have an 8-year old nephew who was born with this gift. He’s always up for whatever the plan is, and has more fun at the most mundane activities than anyone I’ve ever known.

My young nephew recently had a simple surgical procedure done on his ear. His mom {my sister} prepared him for what would happen during the surgery, explaining what to expect in hopes of alleviating any fear he might have. Instead of being apprehensive about the procedure, he had one enthusiastic question. “Do I get to wear a hospital gown?”

He was so excited to wear a hospital gown that he didn’t give the procedure a second thought. My sister sent a photo of him and my heart burst with joy. There he was, stretched out on a gurney in his little hospital gown, surgical cap atop his head, smiling from ear to ear.

What a blessing to be able to automatically focus on what’s going right!

Humans are the only species on the planet that can intentionally change their posture, breath, expression and thoughts. May we use these gifts to our advantage, keeping on the sunny side, always on the sunny side…

Life can be hard and easy and tough and wonderful.
What’s going right in your life?
Where’s your focus today?