I am so excited to announce that I will be hosting a 30 day yoga challenge for One OM at a Time! Here is the basic information about the challenge and how it will take place:
When: Begins Jan 1, 2018 - End Jan 30th 2018
What: A Challenge to yourself to show up on your mat every single day! The amount of time for which you show up, the practice that you choose are all up to you! But the challenge is always the same, unroll your mat and SHOW UP! 5 minutes or 50 minutes of YOU choosing YOU has an enormous impact on how you show up for your life. You can take one of my Yoga classes on One OM at a Time, any other online class, a class in any local studio, or do your own self practice! The point is not to practice in any specific way but just to practice. Through this process you will learn to listen to and therefore know what you need each day. Also you will have:
* A Daily post put to you by me.
* The ability to comment and mark each day that you made it onto your mat. This is more for you than it is for me!
* Weekly live support with me! I will host a regular office hour on Facebook LIVE where you can chat and ask questions and we can offer support to one another as we move through the day to day of this challenge.
* Access to all One OM at a Time yoga classes and meditations.
Why: This is the time of year when we look to resolve and change old habits. Most of us burn out so quickly because we dive in head first to these big, unrealistic goals. Rather than putting the pressure on yourself to get through an entire vigorous workout every single day, lets just first practice the art of showing up. This is how we create and instill a habit, by first showing our minds and our hearts that it matters enough to get there.
Who: YOU and a Tribe of other beautiful human beings!!
How: Head over to my online classes page to sign up! You can click subscribe and pay for the month that way, or decide to join for the entire year if you wish!
I am so excited to be doing this with you, because yes I will doing it right alongside you! Let's begin this new year by very simple showing up and devoting some of our time and efforts to ourself first.
And if you need any more incentive as to why you should make yoga a part of this next year, check out this awesome article by Jenn Miller: http://www.jenreviews.com/yoga/
The past few days I have been feeling a bit blue, and each morning instead of waking up happy and excited to greet the day, I've woken up tired and with a lingering feeling of sadness. I had the realization yesterday that this is the first Christmas in three years that we haven't either been on tour or known what the upcoming year is bringing in terms of my husband's employment. Such is the normal existence of an actor and his wife, but we have been supremely lucky that in the past few years this hasn't been the case.
We are both working incredibly hard to build our life both together as well as in our own personal pursuits. He is doing an amazing job at working to get the work and the right job is coming, I have total faith. I am working daily to build my yoga, essential oils and wellness business and I am truly grateful that I have had some incredible growth in the past months. Our life, in this particular moment, is wonderful and beautiful and we have so much to be thankful for. And yet sometimes, no matter who we are and what it is that we do, we must experience these times of sadness and uncertainty.
After a few days of feeling this way I decided this morning to really consciously direct my oil usage to supporting this. This morning after waking, I grabbed my Frankincense and my Balance Blend and rubbed them both on my feet. There is something about this combination that feels incredibly grounding and comforting. The earthiness of the FRANK and the spruce in the BALANCE makes me feel as if my feet are growing roots and my body is steadying itself to focus and become present. Then I added them both to the diffuser along with a few drops of Wild Orange to help uplift my mood. I can already feel a shift and even if it takes some time for this feeing to completely move through me, and it should, I know I have the tools available to help it along.
Scientifically these oils really do work wonders. As they pass through the olfactory nerve they trigger a chemical reaction in the part of the brain that holds memories and emotions. More and more is being researched on this every day and these little bottles of plant medicine have a powerful potency that only nature can offer. Emotionally and spiritually they act as a way to help us put our emotions out in front of us so that we may be present with them rather than feeling the need to deny them or numb them. This is why I believe in these oils so much and feel they are such a useful tool for all of us to have. Our emotional health directly affects both our physical health and how we see the world. There is a power in the ritual of selecting your oils for the specific purpose of what it is that you need and then actively pursuing it,
I have faith that our next year will be filled with wonder and excitement and most importantly a lot of love, because that is what we are in the pursuit of. And for now, in my brief moment of melancholy I acknowledge the complexity and beauty that is this human experience. I am grateful to be able to take a deep breath, to look upon my daughter's face and to hold my husband's hand as we walk forward into what's next, whatever it may be.
Yoga is a remembering. Remembering who we are at our core, remembering that we are always enough even in our most challenging moments, and remembering what it is that stirs us up from the inside to create and share our most vulnerable selves with the world so that we may have an impact. This also means that sometimes we forget.
As a yoga teacher, I would love to say to you that I am on my yoga mat daily, I eat only the healthiest of foods and I meditate every day twice a day. I would be lying. The reality is that life as a yoga teacher is only one piece of my puzzle. I am a mama, a wife, and a new business owner. These are not excuses, these are just my reality and often it is our own reality that tends to get in our way of our yoga practice, mostly because we allow it. In the past couple of weeks I have made a more concerted effort to not let this be the case. My solution has been that before the sun even rises, I step onto my yoga mat. It is hard, and often I lack the motivation. There have been several mornings that I have not stuck with it. Yet, the mornings that I have, what inevitably happens is that there is always that moment where I remember. As I lie there in savasana, or sit quietly after my mediation having let go of all the titles and who I am to other people, I sit, just with myself and remember me.
You would think that after a while it would just become easier to show up and remind myself of this. Sometimes it does and there will be a solid streak of morning yoga sessions just me and the sun coming up. But the funny thing about yoga and about life is that it doesn't ever actually get easier, rather it ebbs and flows. What I realized is that those times when it isn't happening or there is a real struggle, instead of pushing and forcing my way there, its better to soften. To maybe take less time, or be ok with less effort. Or to be ok with not doing it at all because all that means is that there will be a moment soon that I will get the chance to remember again.
I realized a while ago that my all or nothing attitude doesn't actually serve me well. I would throw myself into something, get really excited about it, do it for a little while and then when the excitement would fizzle so would the action itself. Then would come the feelings of failure and doubt and guilt. I've made the decision that I'm going to simply do away with that now. I know how well this practice of yoga serves me and I will do my very best to be on my mat every morning. And I will forget again, and again, and again. But I have all the trust that I will keep finding my way back because in my deepest self, I know and I will remember.
Happy Sunday Everyone. I have been reading Brene Brown's new book; Braving the Wilderness. Let me first say what an important book it is, especially in the times we are living in right now, and that everyone should read it! I just finished reading the chapter entitled Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart. In it Brene talks about this concept that she learned from Roshi Joan Halifax while they were doing an event together at the Omega Institute. She describes a moment when between scheduled events, Brene tells Joan that she would much rather head up to her room to rest, but feels bad saying no to going to the next event on their schedule. Dr. Halifax responds to her by saying "Tonight we will exhale and teach. Now it's time to inhale. There is the in-breath and there is the out-breath, and it's easy to believe that we must exhale all the time, without ever inhaling. But the inhale is absolutely essential if you want to continue to exhale".
This quote is everything. How often do we feel like we are on a constant exhale? Outputting to the world our effort, our time, our focus and even our love. I especially love that she points out how it is easy for us all to believe that we must exhale all the time. It truly is the culture in which we live, where its all about what we are doing and creating that defines us and therefore is so easy to continue to exhale our way right through until we are running on fumes. I think especially in this time of year, as we enter the season of giving, we forget to return some of that effort and attention back to ourselves. So, on this beautiful Sunday I invite you to just think of how you can take time to inhale this week. For me, its every time I meditate, or get on my yoga mat, or pour a couple of drops in my hand of my favorite essential oil and literally take a few deep inhales. It's also in just quietly sitting and reading really good book! As always, I welcome you to any of the tools that I can offer as a way to make time to inhale. Head on over to my Online Classes page if a yoga class every Sunday and Meditation every Wednesday (all from home) is something that interests you and my DoTerra page to learn more about using essential oils. If you are in NYC then please come take a class with me in person at Lyons Den, see my schedule here!
I am very quickly becoming super passionate about this box of oils and what they can do (In case you haven't already noticed from my social media posts). Recently I have learned that we are now in a time where more people suffer from chronic illness than don't. The CDC states that as of 2012, half of all adults - 117 million people - had one OR MORE chronic health conditions...and that number is from five years ago! That is a crazy and frightening fact! It means that if we don't start taking action to improve our own health and wellness, we will only gain in that unhealthy number.
Something that you may not know about me is that I have Celiac Disease aka an allergy to wheat gluten. It's not super severe, as it is for some, although it has gotten worse and more acute over the years. I know pretty quickly when I have been "glutenized" as I call it. It's no fun. My back hurts, I get really tired and I even feel my mood shift downward. I stop feeling comfortable in my own body and I'm not sure if there is anything worse than that. Thankfully compared to other chronic conditions, I am easily able to manage it with what I eat, or rather don't eat. Since what essentially happens when I do eat anything with gluten is that it damages the part of my body that absorbs nutrients from my food, any food, I have to be extremely careful that I don't let it enter my system. And while I have never had it scientifically proven to me, I think that because my body has an issue with sensitivity for wheat and gluten, I often feel like it doesn't always process other foods well either specifically dairy and of course, sugar. Sad for a major lover of cheese like myself. But again, not feeling comfortable in my body is just not worth it.
The way that most chronic illness is dealt with is with prescription medication. As advanced as modern medicine is and the wonderful things it CAN do, and truly I do believe there is a lot of good, the tendency to allow for long term use of prescription medication is definitely not one of them. My Grandma was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. My mom, who now takes her to all of her doctors appointments, has told me that that the quickest and most common thing her doctors do for her is write prescriptions. It's actually quite angering when I think about it. Thankfully my Mom, brilliant nurse, yogi and advocate for integrative medicine and therapies, often steps in on her behalf. Not everyone has that.
I noticed the other day while watching a commercial for a new drug out on the market, all of the listed side effects. Some of them were just so severe and awful sounding that I couldn't really believe my ears. I have no doubt that the majority of these side effects would require even more medication to help with their symptoms, and so on and so forth. It's as if we are just piling crap on top of crap and shoveling it into our bodies.
The good news is that we can change this and create a new normal if we just start taking better care of ourselves physically and emotionally by making conscious choices every single day. For me, these little bottles of oil offer a pathway into my own conscious thinking. For example, if I wake up one day feeling slow and sluggish, I reach for a bottle of an oil that will help uplift my mood. I will diffuse it, use it topically or even take it internally, as all of them are high enough quality and most of them safe to do so. This leads me to thinking about other ways that I can help support myself with what I need that day. I have, in just the past month of using these oils, gotten on my yoga mat more often, meditated even more often than usual and become extremely more aware of what it is that I am feeding myself with, both nutritionally and environmentally. This has also led to a shift in how my family is thinking and taking care of themselves. My husband now reaches for peppermint oil when he has a headache or backache and my daughter asks for Lavender every night to help settle into sleep.
One of the most fascinating facts that I have discovered about these oils is that they are actually LIVE. Because essential oils are made up of pure aromatic compounds that are found in plants and trees that are recognized in nature, our bodies are also able to recognize them more readily. Many medications are not and instead are synthetic and generated in a lab. What is most interesting about this is that because our bodies don't actually recognize the drugs, the drugs themselves can't actually penetrate the cell walls. Therefore, while they can work to help numb the pain receptors in the body, they don't actually effect a change at the root cause of an issue. Oils however have the ability to go beyond the cell walls and be absorbed by the cells themselves. Since our entire body is essentially made up of cells, this is incredibly important. They offer a chance to help our bodies return to homeostasis naturally, which truly is where all of our bodies want to be. None of our bodies and cells actually want to be out of balance with itself, which is why they work so hard for us every single day.
So basically, I'm pretty passionate about this new tool in my life. I am extremely grateful that I have a team of amazing women, and men, who are supporting me and mentoring me in this journey. Especially to Elena Brower and Amy Kurtz for being so incredibly inspiring and encouraging. I truly don't know if I could have better team leaders and examples to follow as I take this journey. It is my supreme hope to do the same and to inspire as many people as possible to become their own advocate for whole, proactive and preventative health and wellness. It's not a new concept, having taught yoga for so many years, I know so well the natural ways that we can empower and uplift ourselves through movement and breath. This is just another tool in my toolbox to help keep myself, my family, my students and YOU healthy. If you have made it this far, I encourage you to contact me with any questions you have, let's chat! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also head to my DoTerra website at mydoterra.com/sarapackard
or head on over to my DoTerra page on here. It's time to tip the scales back to where we are more healthy than not, as a nation and as individuals. Like so many things in this world right now, big change must occur, but it all starts with small, daily choices. It starts with ourselves.
There are two different phrases that I have heard one of my teachers use regularly; "feel what you feel" and "fear is here". I've uttered them in my own classes often, and for the most part thought I knew exactly why they struck a chord with me, and thus why they bear repeating. That's the funny thing about realization and self-discovery: it often tends to unfold layer by layer, moment by moment throughout the course of one's journey. This is also why you will hear the same things said over and over again in a yoga class. One day a thought or idea will land one way and the next, that very same idea will land completely differently. It's also possible that the first time you actually hear it being said, is not at all the first time that it is being spoken in your presence. We hear things when we are ready.
For me, the phrase "feel what you feel" came first in a physical sense. Feel hands and feet on the yoga mat, feel sensation in the body. Do all of this without needing to change it but rather allow space for the simple acknowledgement. Use this as a means to get grounded and present. Then I began to discover the benefit of using this idea on an emotional level. Feel what you feel in this moment. Whatever emotion is lurking let it lurk, give it a gentle mental nod and know that through the permission you give yourself to feel it, you also give permission to let it go. I have been seriously focused on the letting go part of this thought...
If you read my blog at all, then you know that recently we made the transition from living life on the road, touring with Justin's show, to living, once again, in New York City. I stepped back into my life as a yoga teacher while Justin became a bit more of the primary caretaker for our daughter while he auditions for his next job. It has been a very natural transition and filled with much excitement. I am so incredibly happy being back in the studio and in action of my personal professional pursuits. New York itself has felt just like coming home. There has been a lot of joy.
There has also been a lot of meditation and manifestation work being done. There have been late night talks about goals and budgets and strategies for what our more immediate future plans are. We are trying to figure out where we want to live and what our priorities in that respect are. In truth, there has just been a lot of uncertainty and trying to calmly, rationally and lovingly navigate it. We are a big fan of the belief that we either make decisions from love or from fear. I attempt to come from a place of love as much as possible. Here's the thing though...yesterday I woke up feeling so sad and so depleted. I tried desperately to take all of my normal steps to move myself away from it and move into a more grounded and joyful space. I got on my yoga mat, meditated, journaled and even took a nap. When none of that worked, I began to talk to Justin. I said all of the things that I was trying so hard not to say to him for fear (ironically) that if I said it out loud, that is what I would manifest. I told him all of the things that were constantly running through my mind and all of the worries I had about falling short of these incredibly big plans and hopes and dreams that we have for ourselves. In essence, I said that I was scared.
Funny thing about the universe, it doesn't just hear what you say, it hears what you think. It also knows when you're faking it. As soon as I said what I was feeling, I let the tears roll down my cheeks and I felt the reality of my own fear, I felt relief. I've spent a lot of time these past few weeks looking forward with bright eyed optimism and a seriously strong determination to believe in what it is we have set out to do. Even now, when I type that out, I laugh a little bit at myself because of the absurdity. Yes, we know we are good at what we do, and we know that we can make happen what we want to make happen with a lot of work and effort and patience. And also, we just spent two years of our life doing this insanely awesome thing, which has recently ended, one of us is currently unemployed, we don't yet have a place to call our own and oh yeah, we have a toddler that we are responsible for raising into a good human being every day. OF COURSE FEAR IS HERE!!!
So here's where I all of a sudden realize the importance of "feel what you feel". Its not just about having the feeling to find the release of the "bad" emotion. Emotions aren't inherently bad. They are naturally occurring and are what they are. In defense of fear, it's gotten a bad rap. Somewhere along the line it became more courageous to have no fear than to admit fear. This is just utterly unrealistic. For the longest time I thought, feel the fear so that you can release it and replace it with joy, or with hope or with love. But there is no replacement for it. Fear is its own unique emotion that has its rightful place at the table. It doesn't need to be replaced or ignored or lessened. It is part of our human existence and it's not going anywhere any time soon. Instead, what if we give it room and space to breathe? What if, rather than hiding from it or hiding it from ourselves and others, we simply spoke of it out loud. Fear is Here. I have fear and it is in existence this very moment. And here is where I think it could get really cool: and I'm going to choose to do what I'm doing anyway. I'm still going to meditate and manifest and work to achieve my goals, but I'm going to do it with the intense and radical honesty that I'm doing it while being totally scared about doing it. The discovery here is that what I said earlier about choosing from a place of fear or love, is that I am wondering if maybe this IS love. Maybe while at the same time that we are working to step into our own light, we give voice to the dark, we honor ourselves in a more complete way. And also, maybe dark isn't so bad. Perhaps neither is fear...
This morning I did not wake up my best self. I was sluggish and slow, riddled with impatience and frustration. Audrey too was having a particularly challenging morning, waking up super early and bouncing around on the ever changing emotions that come with being two. Needless to say, neither of us were really handling it all that well, and neither of us were getting what we needed.
There are two parts to what happened next. Number one, my beautifully insightful husband recognized this, I'm fairly certain, well before I did. He generously offered to take Audrey and go on an adventure into the city with her today so that I could have space. If you have ever taken a toddler, on a 45 minute subway ride, into the hustle and bustle of New York City, then you know that truly, generous, is the right word. I resisted him at first. I came up with all the reasons why it wasn't necessary, the first one being the infamous "I'm fine" proclamation. How did it come to be that just being fine , by the way, is the acceptable standard? I then hopped onto the mama guilt train and let myself ride into the place of counting all of the minutes I will not be with her moving forward this week, creating so much anxiety around the idea that if I miss out on the next four hours, I will be failing as her mama since I should be soaking up every last minute that I am able to be with her. This is a new one for me, as I just began working again and am no longer around for every single waking (and non waking) moment of my daughter's life. I love being back in the action of fulfilling my personal mission and work, but I am also still very much finding that balance of fulfilling my desire to be "mostly home" with my child while she is still so young.
The truth is, I knew that if I was given this time and space, I was going to have to do something with it. I was going to have to get my shit together and recalibrate. I knew that I would have no excuse not to meditate, or practice or write. I was resisting being with myself because I knew that I had some work to do. Now I know that this is not a serious struggle that I am talking about here. I know so many people would jump at the chance to have this time available in their day, even for just one day. Let me check my privilege in this moment and fully own up to that. However, whether you work forty-hours a week have eight children and very little time for yourself, I'm fairly certain that in some way, somehow you are still giving up even the tiniest of space in your life that could be just for you, to settle for "just being fine". For me, the biggest recognition here is that not only was I resisting taking some time and space for myself, but I was actively holding on to my poor mood and attitude because I simply didn't want to let it go. Not only that, but I was doing so at the expense of my family and the time we were already sharing together. Thankfully I have learned that Carl Jung was right when he said what we resist, persists and that is the second part, I took my space.
I didn't know if I needed a nap or a mediation so I did both in the form of yoga nidra. I opened up my journal afterwards and began to write, and now here I am adding this new post. In a few moments I am going to go treat myself to lunch, catch up on some work for my mentorship program, get on my yoga mat and then head into the city to teach my classes this evening. Washed away is the mama guilt and the bar being set at "fine" for how I move forward in this day. I didn't just give up the resistance, I gave myself over to it and found resolve. Thinking back to this morning and to my daughter, I realize that its not just two year olds who struggle with bouncing around on ever changing emotional currants. It just begins at that age. If I am ever going to be able to help her navigate those moments in her life, I first have to be able and willing to do it for myself. Although, thats the other thing about two year olds, they seem hell bent on getting exactly what they need, when they need it no matter what...
I have left New York City three different times. The first time, I was fighting it thinking that I might actually fall off the edge of the earth by doing so. The second time I thought it was for good. I cried and cried and cried as I walked down Central Park West thinking that the next time I was there I would be "just a tourist". The third time was a complete unknown. At that point I had experienced the first two and knew enough not to commit in any direction since life is just funny like that. I was also seven months pregnant and knew that by the time we had to make the choice, life was already going to look and feel very different.
There were so many times while we were on the road that the thought of coming back to New York was out of the question. We were experiencing so many new places and cities and with each one I looked at it from the perspective of whether or not I could live there. I also had a serious flirtation turned love affair once again with California. I love California. The entire state, which I know is sacrilegious because either you love So Cal or Nor Cal but definitely not both if you're a real Californian. I love both, so I am not. I did spend countless hours however imagining what life would be like if we moved there, hiking the mountains, standing on the cliffs overlooking the ocean and living our best carefree, yoga-centered, politically liberal California life. I haven't fully ruled that life out by the way. There is still a part of me that deeply longs to spend large amounts of time there (universe are you listening?), but we knew that it wasn't the right time right now. The reason that I kept telling myself that New York was the least desirable, was because I know how hard it can be to live here. I know that New York requires a very certain energy just to maintain. I know that it asks a lot of its inhabitants and requires serious compromise when it comes to living both in the how and where. If you want to be close and have a short commute you pay more for less space. If you want have space you sacrifice more time spent getting going to and from home. Its expensive and smelly and noisy and you share your space with everyone including the walls, floors and ceilings of your apartment. And yet...
My husband and I have been together for what is almost sixteen years now. We basically met when we were children, seriously we were both still teenagers. I could go on and on about the ins and outs, ups and downs of our relationship and why we have been able to stay together for so long. In a way, none of those details matter. What I continue to realize through the ever changing and evolving course of our relationship and marriage is that we continue to choose each other and commit over and over again to each other, as the people we are now not who we were back when. Since we have known each other for almost half of our lifetimes, we have been witness to each other's evolution into our own "humanhood". I can say with certainty that the person I knew so well and intimately ten years ago, is not exactly the same as the one I wake up to now. I'm also certain he would say the same thing about me. There are qualities that still exist, will always exist and are a huge reason why I love him. They are at the foundation of who we are and always will be. What is the most appealing to me is that while knowing that those qualities I love continue to exist there is a constant discovery of all the ways he puts those characteristics to use. With every new moment, new milestone, new challenge and difficulty that arises for us both personally, professionally, individually and as a family, we watch as the other makes choices. We then choose how we either compliment that choice (and sometimes not) with our own choices, but at the end of the day, we re-commit to making it all work in the very best ways that we know how and to thrive and shine together.
I know that the metaphor of comparing New York City to a relationship with another person has been done time and time again. I know its been a very long time since I have dated a person other than my husband. The other day I was thinking about how for this to hold true, that means that these past two years I have spent my time, energy and efforts serial dating. Every week there has been a new city, new experiences, new offerings and new energy. Often times there was a real connection and had time allowed we could have seen where things led. There were also a few occasions where it was very apparent this was going no where and lets just smile and nod to get through our time together. In a way, this way of living was so easy. The beginning of any relationship is filled with excitement at just the mere prospect of possibility. The hard part is when all of that wears off and you are left with the raw reality of those qualities that lie beneath the surface. Thats when you choose to commit or get out. That's where the real work happens.
If I'm going to hold true to this metaphor a bit longer (bear with me) New York and I have a long term on again off again relationship. I look at what is required to make it work and I take a big deep breath, knowing full well I have to put in the time and effort that is required. I also know though that once I show up in that way, ready to work and to focus while equally ready to just be in the process, I get a huge return. And thankfully, just like my relationship, New York is so incredibly forgiving and unconditional. When I have needed the space to take time to grow, it says go. And when I'm ready to return to it with a better understanding of myself it welcomes me back without question or thought. I like to believe that it too grows with me. Just like the incredible human being whom I have chosen to spend my life with has.
I think that we either choose to use the pieces of our life, people, and circumstances to either teach us or overtake us. To empower us or victimize us. Here I am three weeks in to my third return to the city I love to love, and often times struggle with. I have full knowledge of how hard it is to make life work here, and yet I choose to recommit to this beautiful old place in new ways. I have a feeling, big things are in store...
I have always associated the idea of "letting go" with giving up negative feelings connected to bad experiences. Primarily in times when there has been pain or hurt involved in a particular circumstance and in order to move on, we must "let go" of the emotional pain so that we no longer keep feeling it. However, what about the times when our experience is enormously positive and filled with great things? Do we have to let that go as well? The answer is yes.
This week my family and I took a vacation where we visited and hiked through several national and state parks. We stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon, hiked down into it, drove the winding roads of Zion National Park and hiked up two of its glorious peaks. We played in pink sand and stark white snow. We watched and smiled and enjoyed as an ever changing landscape passed by in the span of just two states. We laughed a lot. I can honestly say that there is not one thing I would have changed about the week, the time we spent together and the memories that we created. Then as I was gleefully watching my husband play in the backyard of our little cabin with the dog and our daughter, I uttered to myself "I don't want this to end" and that end of vacation sadness began to creep over me.
There is a word in yoga, "Aparigraha", which means non-possessiveness or non-hoarding. In fact it is one of the Yamas (moral disciplines) and part of the eight limbs of yoga. I haven't thought about this word in quite some time and yet as soon as I wished for those moments to not end, the word came rushing into my brain. It's funny what the mind stores. I began to think about how of course this all has to end, we will pack up our bags and the car and get back to our life on the road and Justin will go back to doing the show eight times a week while I assume the role of primary caretaker for Audrey. Our life as we know it will resume.
Let me take a pause here and just openly state this: our life as we know it is still incredibly wonderful and filled with adventure. I know that it is important to keep perspective and recognize that what we could be "going back to" could be so much worse. That being said, everything is relative and no matter how we exist in this world, at one point or another we will all (hopefully) experience theses moments that we feel we could live inside forever, and yet as certain as anything, it will change.
So why is it important to consciously let go of the times in our life when we feel joy? Think of it this way: when we hold our breath, we actively prevent the experience of the next breath. It is important to let each chapter end, no matter the emotions involved, so that the next can begin. Whether we are talking about possessions themselves, ideas and philosophies, or important moments in our life; holding on to any of them once their time has passed keeps us living far away from the present and limits what could happen in the future. Letting go of something requires a great deal of trust that, with what comes next, we will be ok. I truly believe, as Gabby Bernstein so often says "The Universe has your back". By not giving up the moments we hold so dear, we are saying to ourselves and to the universe that this is as good as it gets and it couldn't possibly be any better. Perhaps it will get better. Perhaps it will get worse. Either way holding on will most certainly make sure that the latter is true. Also what a powerful statement to make to yourself and to your life that no matter what, you've got this!
Another way that I have heard Aparigraha described is "the art of keeping only what you need." What a concept, in a world where such a strong emphasis is placed on getting what you want. One thing that this time of living life on the road with a toddler has shown me is how little it is that we actually need. We travel a bagful of toys and another bagful of books for my daughter. She absolutely loves and desires having these few possessions around when she sees them. The other times when they are stored away in our trunk she is just as content playing with or discovering the world around her, with whatever it has to offer. Perhaps children are the masters of Aparigraha. She makes it clear when one of her needs isn't being met (food, water, attention, etc.). Other than that, she is ready and waiting for whatever comes next with a kind of neutrality that is super inspiring.
As adults, who have had years of practice aiming to get what we want out of life and less focused on just what we need, we too can bring ourselves back to a more neutral place. For me, I find getting out into nature helps. As I stood looking out at the Grand Canyon, I listened to one of the guides who was talking to an older couple. He was saying what a humbling experience looking out onto this millions of years old, gorgeous, natural hole in the earth is. He said that on days when he thinks he has hit "rock bottom" and he comes to this place he is reminded that any "rock bottom" he is experiencing is self-inflicted and usually based on not getting certain things in his life that he wanted. The importance that we put onto things and experiences, both good and bad, is completely of our own creation. What we think matters to us will matter to us. We could actually choose to give up the idea that it does, take a deep breath, refocus on getting only what we need for a while and watch as our life and all of the limitless possibilities open up. We could choose to see our life as neutral space, ready to be filled with the next experience, and then of course, emptied out again. There is an incredible freedom to this kind of living and thinking. This is also why taking time to sit in meditation so that you can practice just observing without reacting is so important.
Taking a page from my daughter, everything is what it is, what is in front of me now matters and getting only what I need can bring an unlimited amount of happiness and joy.
Dear beautiful country of Canada, specifically the city of Toronto:
As I sit here and watch my last sunrise over Billy Bishop airport, I want you to know you have my heart. Six months ago we came here as a one year old family. We had spent that first year out on the road, often apart from each other for weeks at a time, and so when we came to you we were still a bit on uncertain ground as far as this whole mommy, daddy and daughter thing was concerned. You welcomed us however, with open arms. Shortly after we arrived we watched as Audrey took her first steps on your soil. We listened as she found many of her first words here...we were just waiting for that "eh" to show up! She made her first non family friend friend here and I my first mama friend with whom we enjoyed many play dates and laughs with. We learned some of our first and favourite songs in your amazing and FREE family programs that you offer for your people. The beaver song is by far our favourite souvenir that we are bringing back to the states with us (if you don't know it, ask us to sing it for you next time we see you!). We had our first lake vacation here on one of your beautiful Muskoka lakes and Audrey saw her very first bear in the wild!! I began a new yoga journey here, teaching and discovering my passion in a new way.
We established our first routines here; going to the park with the wading pool across the street in the hot summer afternoons, weekly trips to the library a few blocks up and regular rides on the streetcars to go see daddy at work each Saturday. With all of these things, you offered us some time to stand still, to breathe and to really become a family. You offered us home.
You also mourned with us. After returning back here on November 12th, you didn't point and laugh at us and our misery. Instead you wrapped your arm around our shoulder like an old friend and said "I'm sorry this is happening". I would be lying if I said I haven't thought numerous times about staying here instead of going back. I will miss seeing your kind, fair and, has to be said, handsome prime minister's face on the news, as we say goodbye to ours. I will do my best to not begrudge you of this as we move further into the future back home!! I will also vow to fight with my voice and my vote for those things you have been the example of. Most specifically, free healthcare for all, enormous and generous support for new families especially in their first year of figuring it all out, and your open door policy for immigrants and those displaced from their own countries because of war, famine and inequalities. You have gracefully shown me how beautiful it is when we co-exist in our differences as friends. I will always tell the story of our building's holiday party, where our very jolly Canadian building manager dressed up as Santa Claus, while our Mexican maintenance man and his mariachi band played, while enjoying the tree and decorations that were put up by our Muslim doorman and ate the amazing samosas made by one of our Indian residents. I looked around at that party and felt lucky to be there and sad that I even had to think that this "could be and should be" normal in my country, and with fear that in fact we are moving even further away from that as a possibility. But still, I will fight.
In short dear Canada, I am grateful for the time that we got to spend within your borders. As a family, we grew closer together, and we are leaving today much better and stronger than when we came. It would be easy to say that this could have happened anywhere, but the truth is that I will always associate this feeling and gratitude with you. As we move on and back into our country, quite literally state by state these next six months, there will be a bit of maple leaf love that comes with me every step of the way. Our family is grateful, I am grateful. Thank you, Oh Canada.
is a Mama, Wife, Teacher, Writer and Creator of One OM at a time. She has been teaching and studying yoga since 2008 and has taught at studios in Syracuse, Boston and New York City. For the past two years her hOMe has been wherever she, her husband Justin, their daughter Audrey and pug Oscar find themselves as they traveled for Justin's job on the national tour of Matilda the Musical. This way of living has really taught Sara that yoga and mediation requires nothing more than some time and a space for your mat and that it really can be done anywhere. More recently, this gypsy mama and family have made their way back to NYC and Sara is back in the yoga studio leading weekly classes at New York City's one and only Baptiste Yoga Studio! You can still catch her every Sunday morning leading classes on Facebook LIVE because she truly wants to make yoga accessible to everyone, no matter where you are in the world and in life. There is a beautiful balance that happens when we can stand both in community surrounded by fellow yogis as well as stand in our own space and practice. However you choose to experience one of Sara's classes, it is her hope to inspire YOU to live your life with authenticity, creativity and lots and lots of love.