Finding inner balance with yoga nidra

I’ve been blogging all week about how to restore the balance of your inner masculine and feminine to help restore vitality and joy. Yesterday I talked about Ayurveda as a resource and today I thought I’d share about Yoga Nidra.

When I became consciously aware that my feminine energy was tamped down and really blocked, I started looking for ways to introduce more yin practices into my world. Yin is another word for the feminine energy essence.

I think it was on a SoundsTrue Podcast that I came across a type of meditation called yoga nidra. Yoga nidra is also called “sleep yoga” because it’s done in the corpse pose (laying flat on your back) and you rest the entire time. If you are like me and that sounds like your ideal yoga class then definitely check it out! There are a ton of free yoga nidra meditations on various meditation apps, but one of the best resources I found was http://daringtorest.com/ . This organization is dedicated to help over-tired women to restore the juiciness of life and the woman who founded it has a whole program if you are interested. I’ve not done it but it look s awesome!

To share a little bit more about what Yoga Nidra is and is not, here is an excerpt from Dare to Rest’s Website:

There are no downward-facing dogs, warriors, or other physical postures. Yoga nidra is a sleep-based, conscious guided meditation in which your mind is still active. As your body relaxes, you become open to erasing emotional and mental patterns that are holding you back, combining the benefits of meditation with the benefits of sleep. Over time, consistent practice often leads to transformation in all areas of your life especially your sleep, energy, and emotions.

From Daring to Rest

One way I incorporated yoga nidra into my routine was that after I did daily oil massage I would then take a bath while listening to a Yoga Nidra mediation. It was heavenly! Talk about a way to recharge!

Have you tried any of these techniques? Any favorites?

Blogging series on reclaiming vitality and joy!

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram for more joy and inspiration!

The call to purify

Here we are on day three of the blogging series about restoring vitality and joy! Yesterday I wrote about understanding the need for inner balance of our masculine and feminine energy. Today I’m going to talk about the call to purify the body.

Early in my journey to restore balance I started receiving messages from my higher self that I needed to purify. Frankly I was confused by this and perhaps even a little offended! What exactly was impure in me that needed to go?! What I grew to understand was that energy that sat stagnant had created blocks in my body that caused all sorts of health woes. Plus, The modern processed food diet certainly didn’t help. These energy blocks, or areas of over-active energy, create big imbalances in our body that express with pain, ailments, discomfort, you name it. (There’s a lot more to how energy moves and gets stuck in the body but this gives you a gist. If you are curious to know more check out information on acupuncture which is all about managing/restoring this movement of energy or chi in our body.)

Purification is also helpful because we are living in a time of so much change–the feminine energy is rising and she literally rises in our body. If there are blocks in our body this rising energy will be met with pain and discomfort. By working to detox or purify our body we make space for the energy to flow freely. I think of it as a way to create ease and grace with a process that could otherwise be very uncomfortable.

There are so many detox plans and diets out there, there are probably a million options for ways to purify and restore balance within. I’m sharing what worked for me because hot diggity dog did it work, and swiftly. I’m so passionate about this – but please know I’m not a doctor, it’s not medical advice, all that jazz. 😉 Just one person’s experience.

By far my favorite resource for this topic is Ayurveda. If you aren’t familiar with Ayurveda, it’s an ancient Vedic philosophy rooted in India that is all about the mind-body connection with the underlying premise that our natural state of being is health. It believes that anything we experience outside the realm of optimal health is a sign that we are out of balance — but because it starts within us, should we choose to shift our habits and thoughts we can bring it back to center.

A brief story…remember how I said that I made it my goal to restore my vitality and joy? Once I made that choice I was shown all sorts of resources/supports/people that appeared like bread crumbs from the universe. One of them was a podcast I heard with an interview with a woman named Acharya Shunyas, an Ayurveda scholar/author who was being interviewed about a book she wrote. In the middle of the interview I heard her say, “Joy and Vitality are your BIRTHRIGHT!” My jaw dropped to the floor. I knew this in my core but hearing it from her gave me so much hope! It was like a signpost — yes, Sarah, keep following this path! You can do this!

(By the way, I’ve read a number of books on the topic and by far her book is my favorite! https://www.acharyashunya.com/ayurveda-lifestyle-wisdom-book .)

Before I talk about ways you can restore balance using Ayurveda, it helps to understand your own natural tendencies toward imbalance. Ayurveda believes each person is born with a certain dosha, a term that translates to imbalance. The idea is that once you understand your dosha (your natural tendencies to imbalance) you can be aware of how to keep it from getting out of wack. The good news is that once you know your dosha you can find strategies that work for your particular body type to get back into groove.

There are three types of doshas–vata, pitta and kapha. Each dosha has common physical characteristics and even personality traits that go with it. Personally, finding out my dosha was a game changer. I’m a Vata and to give you a sense of how spot-on this can be, let me describe for you what an imbalanced Vata looks like: dry, fatigued, anxious, hair loss, digestive issues (such as constipation), and problems with fertility and reproductive health.

DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER! Could you say I was an out of balanced Vata or what?

So, check it out – what’s your dosha? There are a lot free quizzes online but I really like this one from Everday Ayurveda. What might it tell you about your own natural tendencies to imbalance–and ways to realign? Lots more tomorrow on how you can use all sorts of Ayurveda methods (and others) to begin to restore balance.

Blogging series on reclaiming vitality and joy!

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram for more joy and inspiration!

It’s all about that inner balance, baby

This week I’m writing about a journey I’ve been on for the last two years to get my groove back! I’m sharing my story because goodness knows I’m not the only woman who has faced down exhaustion/anxiety/ptsd/infertility or some other host of ailments and longed for something more. Because there is more!

[please know that despite this sounding a little bit like an infomercial I promise there are no herbal supplements being sold! (HA!) If only it were that simple, actually!]

I’m going to take you on a little journey this week to share what I’ve uncovered along the way back to finding ME. The first stop on the the journey is a discussion of ENERGY — specifically why at the root of so much of our imbalance is our yearning for the inner balance of our masculine and feminine energy.

Why start here? The reason is that everything in our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. For women this is even more crucial to grasp because we make our realizations from the inside out (where for men it is the opposite – they need to see the outside world to then go inward.)

Early on in this path of awakening I sensed that there was an imbalance within me but I didn’t have the language to explain it. I hope that sharing these concepts can hep you put your own puzzle pieces together.

One of the first pieces to my puzzle was meeting with an acupuncturist who specialized in infertility treatment. When I described what was going on and my symptoms I remember saying, “hey as weird as it sounds I just feel DRIED UP.” Tapped out, nothing more to give dried up. To my surprise she immediately understood, and said “I know exactly what is going on! And I know how to fix it!” It turns out that my yin channel was blocked and needed unblocking. The yin is the feminine…and wow was she right. My feminine was all sorts of blocked.

Looking back I can chuckle a little bit because it seems like captain obvious to say that my feminine was blocked. But at the time I didn’t know and she helped open the door to me seeing it in a new way.

So what are these energies inside us and why does it matter? First, it’s important to understand that masculine and feminine has nothing to do with gender. Every human (male or female, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification) has a mix of two energies inside of them. If “male” and “female” trips you up, you might prefer the terms yin and yang, or anima and animus—they are all referring to the same concept. At its root it is energy, two parts within that crave balance, communication and ultimately unity.

In simplistic terms the feminine represents our inner world, that which is hidden, our creative ideas and dreams, our emotions, and the longings of our heart. The feminine is watery and passive. It’s the being, not the doing. The masculine is our outer world – it’s how we live in the world, how we bring life to our ideas, how we behave and interact. It’s our mind. It’s fiery and active. It’s focused on the doing, not the being.

In my own life the imbalance came about because I had way too much doing and not enough being. I was all mental energy at the expense of my creative, artistic longings. I was denying the parts of myself that needed inner tending, rest, quiet. And, I was ignoring the longings of my heart.

In the beginning when you start to understand this energy you may notice extremes. You may notice that there is one aspect of you that is way overpowering the other. Then you start to lessen the gap and bring more harmony and balance between the two; eventually it becomes a subtle dance, a moment-to-moment experience of feeling into what your body needs.

Can you think of a challenge in your life and think about how it might be playing out the imbalance of the masculine and feminine? Our culture has denied and devalued the feminine energy for a very long time, so it is likely that she needs tending in some shape or form. Feel into her…what does she need from you that she isn’t receiving?

There is so much more I can say about this topic but for now I’ll stop here. Feel free to comment if you have questions or thoughts to share. Tomorrow we explore the role of purification in helping to restore balance!

Blogging series on reclaiming vitality and joy!

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram for more joy and inspiration!

A journey to reclaim vitality and joy

Two years ago I was so tired that I barely made it through the work day. I had ZERO energy left over for playing with my daughter or keeping up with the tasks of life. I was cranky, drinking too much coffee (which only made me feel worse!) and despite all that coffee I was never pooping! (Constipation, it turns out, matters in this story. Bear with me.) My hair was starting to fall out – not a lot but enough that I was concerned because ew! That is not normal. I was sick all the time, which at the time I blamed on having a small child in daycare but in retrospect, nope. That wasn’t the full story.

The wake up call came when I found myself sitting across the desk from an infertility doctor being told that I was so infertile I didn’t even qualify for IVF. Well, that got my attention. Women are creators by nature, and if my womb couldn’t create a child then something in me was way, way off. I knew this deep in my bones.

That moment in the doctor’s office was a turning point and one I’m grateful for now. (Though at the time I was screaming with the universe about this, no doubt about that!)

I recently came across my journal from that time and I’d written down two goals moving forward: I wanted to restore vitality and joy within myself. When I reread this I think I gasped a little — because here I am, a year and a half later and I can tell you that yes, I’ve found my way to this place most certainly. I have tons of energy from the moment I wake to the time I go to bed. I rarely if ever get sick. But more importantly, I feel like the life force has returned in me! I am living life rather than being lived by it.

I’m called to share this journey because so much has been given and it’s time to pay it forward. What is happening to one woman is happening to us all in some way or another. It’s practically an ethos in the United States (where I live) that to be a modern woman is to be frazzled, overworked, over-tired and spent. WHAT GIVES. That is seriously messed up!

My path may differ from your own — you may never have faced infertility, and imbalance in your life may present so much differently than my own — but I also know that the wisdom, teachings, healing modalities are available for all of us and don’t only apply to me and my own little situation. I’m blogging daily this week to share some of this journey. Please feel free to comment and share your own experiences or to ask questions! Share a post if you feel called to do so.

What do you say? Ready to reclaim the vitality and joy that are your birthright?

Blogging series on reclaiming vitality and joy!

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram!

Breaking rules, breaking habits

REBEL WITH A COFFEE. Or a cause. 😁

I’m currently drinking contraband iced coffee in the teen section of my local library. No teens are here because it is way before noon (as I type this!) Which means that despite the many NO food in the library signs it’s the perfect place to be a rule breaker with my iced coffee tucked away in my purse.

I’m working hard lately breaking norms, societal and self-imposed. Let’s just say the iced-coffee-in-the-library is but a tiny start.

Yeah I see you sign.

It’s been a long yet short summer of weirdness but wonderfulness. I haven’t written on this blog since April, and not writing and sharing here is a habit I plan to break. I literally woke up yesterday and thought, I need to start writing again. Actually, back that up…I think the realization first came after I did an exercise recently (as a spiritual student of Magdala Ramirez, check her out she is amazing) that got me thinking about ways that widsom has been shared when I needed it most, and how I might share it with the ones who come after me. This blog being a tiny corner of the world to do just that!

Yes much has been received and it’s time to give, too! In this long/short weird/wonderful summer I have been integrating a LOT. I went to sacred ceremony (priestess ceremony) for five days in June and it basically took me all summer to unpack what I experienced. I’m realizing that unpacking it isn’t quite enough. I don’t want to hold tight to knowledge. I need to bring it forth!

Earlier this summer I heard this really great episode of the Pele Report (a weekly video/podcast by Kaypacha) where he talked about how we make something sacred once we share it back with the world. (Trying to find the episode…once I find it I’ll post the link!) For example, let’s say you create art. The creation of the art might be a spiritual act, but if you keep it to yourself you have only done half of the work. In sharing it with the outside world you make it sacred. That final step can feel scary and vulnerable but it’s also so freaking POWERFUL. It becomes a full circle moment. Not just receiving but giving it back to source in a new way.

Which brings me back here, typing in the library as I sneak some coffee. In so many areas of my life I’m being called to bring it forward. No more hiding, no more clinging, just free low of love! It’s boundless and endless, so why cling tight or hold it or hide it?! Let’s make it sacred! Even if we are a little scared! (Wow flip those letters and scared becomes sacred. Just blew my own mind a little! 😂)

This is my long and meandering way of saying I plan to write here a lot more often. I’m excited to hear what you are up to as well. Are you hearing the call to bring it forth? I’d love to hear about it!

With joy,

Sarah

Thank you, next! How I found myself (and my way) back to joy.

What’s all this nonsense about following the joy, and who exactly gave you these instructions? I want details, you say! Okay here you go… A tiny bit of the journey.

Just Follow the Joy is a mantra, a message, a path. It came to me one day when I was walking my beagles and (once again) asking the universe, I give up! What do you want me to do?!

And the Voice –(not the tv show though I hear it is excellent!)–the Voice within me, the WISE voice, the voice that takes no bullshit, the voice of love and grace and clarity–said, follow the joy.

HUH?

It would have been way more convenient if this voice told me how to look for a job or what job to be looking for exactly or maybe a set of detailed instructions about the meaning of this, but none of that came with this voice. And every time I checked in again, there it was. Just follow the joy!

For some you, this might seem pretty logical. Ok yes, following joy sounds like a good plan you say. But for me, I like to keep things complicated. This seemed…too simple. Too frivolous. TOO joyful.

I would like to now interject and add, What kind of nutty conditioning have I undergone that makes the embracing of joy so difficult and dare I say REBELLIOUS? I have this precious life in a body, a body that can eat starbursts (yes the candy) and go roller skating and sing karaoke and dance to “Thriller” and climb trees and paint pictures! HOW AMAZING IS THAT!

Why on earth would I say no to ANY of that? Oh thanks for the offer, but I’d rather sit over here in human misery, thanks. I enjoy bleakness, sadness, turmoil, heartbreak! Yeah that sounds like a good plan!

It took a bit for me to embrace my highest self’s message. I finally decided that she probably has my best interests at heart so I’d be wise to listen. It did, however, mean saying thank you, next to all sorts of things that at one time I thought would fulfill me but were actually sucking me dry. Thank you, next to a law career. Thank you, next to the idea of respectability and prestige and frankly ego-gratifying stuff. Thank you, next to giving my power away willy-nilly! (And with it my joy and creativity! And the tree climbing!)

So here I am, at long last, ready to embrace the joy. I’ve dropped a bunch of false selves and the bologna that upheld them. There ain’t much more to shed. Time to come out of hiding and do the work! Create the creations! From inner-alignment of heart and mind. From love. From…wait for it…a place of…JOY!

I recently gave notice at a job that gave me a lot of freedom, paid me very well, and was in many ways a great gig! But it was tied a sense of self that no longer exists…a self that viewed the world very differently than I do now, and it is time to say goodbye. not just to the job but to a way of being that no longer fits.

Thank you, next.

What is next…? I’ll be following the joy to see where it takes me. It will involve embracing my gifts of art and writing to be in service to my village. This is exciting and a little frightening too.To quote the title of a Anne Lamott book, HELP! THANKS! WOW! I’ll be sharing my journey on these pages and I invite you to join me as I discover where it leads!*

*(Hopefully to some income. Income is good. But hopefully leads to futher joy too! (Obviously!) And freedom! And creativity! And more tree climbing!)

Just Follow the Joy Facebook | Instagram

It’s probably not completely doomed!

“It is probably not completely fucked and doomed. At worst, it’s only slightly fucked and doomed.”  Mantra by *Sam Lamott (@samlamott) (*Offspring of one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott!)

Is it me, or does the world feel a little bit chaotic lately? Pretty sure that this week we moved up a notch from You Gotta be Kidding Me to This is Getting Pretty Bonkers.

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Chaos galore. We’ve got hurricanes!! 3,000 dead people miraculously coming back to life from said hurricanes!! Taking money from the people who help during hurricanes so we can detain more children! (Although…if we can bring the dead back to life, maybe we don’t need FEMA??)

It’s all got me thinking: What do we do with chaos? That is, other than respond with fear. (Or booking a one-way flight directly to Justin-Trudeau-land.) 

All I know is that I have a predictable pattern I use when the latest crazy drops from the heavens and into my news feed.  And–because you’ll notice one of the below steps is writing (HA!)–I’m gonna write about it and share with you

Let’s call it, Sarah’s Seven Steps™ to Responding to the Chaos: (fictional trademark and everything.)

  1. Denial. Muttering over and over How is this HAPPENING? This can’t be happening! 
  2. ALL-CAPS STAGE. (AKA seeking validation from those who see it the way you do.) Post to facebook with crazy emoji faces that basically scream “OMG GUYS DO YOU SEE  THIS IS?!” *Yes they do unless they don’t and in that case your article won’t make them “see” it.  (Not that I heed this advice, I do this ALL THE TIME. See the all caps??!)
  3. Fight or Flight.  Responding with, “I’ve gotta do something! There are kids in cages! “OR,“Nope nope nope. Can’t deal with the crazy today! Gonna binge watch Making-It.” 
  4. Grapple with existential angst. Chocolate helps. So does talking aloud to beagles. 
  5. Surrender. Sweet, sweet surrender. You know, facing the feelings under it all. Having a good cry about the children. Discovering that you feel a lot better after facing the feels.
  6. Magic! Transmuting/alchemizing the pain. (Which auto correct wants to change to “Schematizing” – sure that works too.)  You feel the feels, you eat the chocolate…now what? For me, I transmute the pain through art or writing. I take the pain and turn it into joy. It’s basically magic.
  7. Repeat.  Again and again and again. The world is at bonkers-level crazy after all. And maybe bit by bit…our creations of joy build a beautiful new world out of the chaos.

THAT’S ALL I GOT. (OH: and vote in the midterms. Do that too! Register to vote and/or request your vote-by-mail if you haven’t yet!)

What about you? How do you cope with the crazy? Did I miss any steps? What level comes next you think?

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Pursuing joy

At some point this past year I decided I wanted my life to be about pursuit of joy rather than reduction of suffering. And to paraphrase Frost, it has made all the difference.

For me it looks like embracing my inner artist. I was born an artist but along the way morphed, conformed, forgot. It’s all good. The journey back to myself has been so sweet! I’m leaping into fear, taking an undergrad art class with students who are literally half my age. Fear and joy! Fear and joy! Even the smell of art supplies makes my heart sing.

Are there any small ways you can increase joy? Share you victories below!! I’m so happy to give virtual high fives to you brave souls.

You can change how the story ends

Like many, I’ve been gutted by the horrific story of immigrant children being separated from their families and detained. I noticed something as I scrolled social media. Whether my friends are on the right or left, the story they tell seems to finish the same way. “This is happening and we can’t stop it.”  Those on the left, out of urgent fear, point to where we are headed (“Do you see the parallels to Nazi Germany??”)–(to be fair, often out of a desire to make others see the horror and hope to stop it. Unfortunately I think this has the unintended effect of paralyzing us.) Those on the right may justify where we are headed as being okay (“Other leaders did bad stuff to immigrants, too, so what gives!). But both tend to say the same thing: this (bad/good) thing is happening and the outcome is inevitable. You do not have the power to change it.

Oh but yes you do.

When we witness horror, despair, injustice–unthinkable atrocities like children being separated from their families and detained–our heart wants to shut down. It is too much. I can’t do this. This can’t be happening. Or, serves them right, they broke the law, send them back home. I never said life was fair. Hearts shut down and fear/bitterness/anger takes hold.

This past week I was finding myself teetering between shutting down (“I’m going to ignore Facebook right now”) and also automatically writing the story’s ending. (“This is Nazi, Germany. This escalates from here. Next comes the [insert parade of horrors]”).

But then I realized that when my mind creates that ending, that is the ending we get. So I decided to choose a different endingThis story will end with love of millions raising voices and declaring, we demand ferocious, expansive love that protects, lifts, liberates, reunites and heals.  

I’ve decided that I’m going to create my reality based on love. I’m going to make the bold declaration that my choice has ripples — the people around me can also choose to be emboldened by love and light and join me in making a different ending to the story.

If you want love, be love.

If you want peace, be peace.

If you want hope, be hope. 

Every breath in, every breath out, I can choose to listen to the fear or to the love. Right now, in this moment, and for the next moment and the moment after that, I’m choosing to side with love. I’m daring to dream a new ending to the story. I dare you to do the same.