How I am taking action to fill myself up, be diligent in self-care and align my heart and my head...
My beautiful teacher, Elena Brower, recently spoke about this in her New Year Practice You video. The importance of daily ritual is something that can keeps us regularly checking in with ourselves in mindful ways. A ritual can vary in length and activity, what matters most is its consistency of practice. For me, morning meditation is it. However, what I am desperately wanting to add in is a physical yoga practice that leads into meditation. For a while I thought this meant that I have to be up and ready, in my yoga clothes and sweating by the end. Elena pointed out that for her, there are days when she wakes up tired, so this could mean a Yoga Nidra practice which leads into meditation. When she said this, I had a moment of realizing it’s more about tuning into my physical being rather than pushing myself physically. Perhaps it is because I come from a power yoga background, but I have long associated a formal “yoga practice” to be one that is more physical in nature and closer to traditional exercise. This is not in alignment with my heart. Instead, my daily ritual will be to arise around the same time each day, unroll my mat, move my body however it feels necessary and then sit for my mediation. And, in my pajamas, no yoga pants (or bra) required. My hope is that this will take the expectation out of it and open the doorway for exploration and inquiry to come in.
I of course recognize that the difficulty of this, is as a mama whose child’s wake up time is unpredictable, things could have the tendency to waiver. So, I am also making a commitment to myself to wake up a little earlier and go to bed a little earlier. And, if Audrey wakes up first, so be it. I will remain flexible in both how I practice and how long it happens. I also maintain that in order for my daughter to truly know the value of self-care she must mostly see it in action.
And while there will also be daily mid-day rituals I am looking to cultivate, my next focus will be end of day. Shutting down intelligently and mindfully. Turning off all input and sitting with myself to ask the simple question "How did I do today?" Not to judge but to simply observe. Journaling will be a big part of this time and it is my goal to leave each day with my own words in my head.
Clear Boundaries on Time
The other day Justin and I set a clear and precise schedule for how we will be spending our time each day. This is something that neither of us have been great at in the past, but recognize our need to be better organized and have stronger clarity of time spent. Ange Peters talks about this a lot, and has taught me to recognize that time is in fact currency. We get to choose how we spend it, who we give it to and ultimately what kind of return we are looking for with how we invest it.
This also includes only spending time doing the things that feed me and that I love. No longer do I believe that we must fill our time doing things because it is what we are "supposed" to do. I understand fully the requirements of obligation and being an adult, however I am going to only seek ways to do that while also nurturing my inner child.
I have always wanted to make space and room for anything to happen but I am now realizing that by setting my own clock, I am actually offering a kind of freedom where my life truly belongs to me. So, there will be boundaries on my time, how I spend it and what I spend it doing. Which leads right into the next…
This is something I began to talk about at the end of this last year, and am continuing to cultivate. That small computer in my hand takes up so much more time and offers much more distraction than is healthy. I am a firm believer that to some degree, the majority of us are addicted to our phones. I am. And while I often need it for my work, I admittedly spend a lot more time scrolling and browsing than is necessary.
For me, I am realizing more and more that I must balance my consumption with my creation. Our phones give us this false sense of relief without realizing that we are continuing to consume and consume and consume, thereby depleting our own inner resources and attention. Instead, it is my mission to be continually mindful of how much I am creating vs. how much I am consuming. So, I am setting hard boundaries on my social media and screen time and making sure that I have more to to both create and put out into the world more than what I take.
One of the things I have been realizing lately is that I am hungry to learn. It’s not that I have not always loved learning, but the past few years I have definitely done more of the teaching and I am including mothering in this. I haven’t had a thirst to push past my own boundaries of what I know in quite a while, and I am ready to get back to my studentship in a much more profound way. I am not yet sure what this looks like, but I know that one of my biggest interests of late is in looking back to the tradition of yoga and studying some of the older lineages. Rod Stryker has been a big presence in my practice lately and so it may mean going to study with him, or at the very least continuing to make him, and other areas of yoga where I am not so familiar, a regular part of my practice.
I am also continuing to explore and delve into essential oils, aromatherapy and integrative and holistic practices. This is an area that makes my heart soar and I plan to continue to honor it throughout the course of this next year. I also firmly believe that the greatest teachers are first students and so I plan on this being the strongest course of action in terms of growing my business, both in yoga and essential oils. I am going to invest in my own wisdom and knowledge.
In all honesty, this is something I have not been very good at in my life. It’s not that I don’t have friends or people I love, but I am extremely comfortable being alone. However, the older I get and the more I think about what I want for Audrey and for our family, I truly want a community of friends to surround ourselves with in the best of times and the hardest of times. My effort in reaching out has always been something I struggle with, so this year I am being much more concerted in my efforts to both make new friends and continue to be in contact with old ones. I am just now at 36 beginning to understand that none of us can do this on our own and that we all need each other to be in regular contact with one another so that we can learn from one another.
Justin and I have specifically set aside time each month for each of us to have friend time as well as a time to gather with community. Two Mondays each month are dedicated to an evening where one of us goes out to hang, as adults only, and with a friend. So...expect a call!
Open Sky Mind
This is another takeaway from Elena’s Practice You webinar. The idea that once or twice this year, we will take time to travel alone, to cultivate open sky mind where we are with ourselves and only ourselves for a while. This ties perfectly into both diligent studentship and my entire reason for doing all of this work. We must be able to fill ourselves up from the inside, readily, lovingly and wholeheartedly. For a long time, the thought of leaving my family for even a weekend to go explore on my own, or attend a retreat, was just too scary. My heart truly longs to be with them each and every day for as long as my life exists. However, I am now realizing the clarity that this kind of daring will bring me and it is now one of my top priorities to, within the next few weeks, book a solo trip somewhere. Likely it will be in the form of a retreat, perhaps starting with just a weekend in time, but it will a place that I travel to and from alone and give myself the freedom to have an open sky mind.
With all of this in my sights, my work this year is in aligning my head with my heart and to continually fill my cup, over and over and over again. One of my friends said recently “Humanity is an experiment and we can make it beautiful”. I am choosing to make mine beautiful by experiencing the joy of my own inner beauty, so that I may better share it with the world. This is my new year, this is my work.
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 two years her hOMe was 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. You can find Sara teaching regular classes in NYC, workshops and retreats all over the country as well as in her very own online studio right here!