Taking a step back isn’t the same thing as going backwards; sometimes we’re too close to what’s right in front of us and just need to gain a clearer perspective, a broader view of what lies ahead. Sometimes we forget ourselves, getting lost in the idea of a different kind of life, moving too quickly toward an ambition that doesn’t fit quite right, like a well-laid plan to move into a new camp that instead takes us deep into the wilderness.
I’ve always had a compulsion to continue moving forward and I often find myself fumbling over my own two feet; I accelerate too quickly and have to slam on the brakes to avoid getting myself into a massive wreck.
But the thing is, I’m trusting myself more and more these days, getting clearer messages from the heart and using that direction to follow my internal compass.
Losing something is not the same as total failure.
A setback is also an opportunity to reorient yourself.
And no matter how many steps backward you need to take to get back on track, the things and people you meet along the path will always make the journey worthwhile.
I’m keeping my heart open, my mind clear and my spine strong, trusting that every step is the right one, not getting lost in the disappointment of what is versus what could have been. And with this unwavering faith in the universe to set me right, I know I’ll always end up where I need to be; the adventure is never over unless we decide to stop travelling, and it’s not so much about where we’re headed but how we choose to get there.
I had to adjust the language I was using around my current circumstances.
“My life is falling apart” - things that were not working for me have slipped away so that I can keep moving toward my higher self.
“It can’t get much worse” - it could, if I lost my health, my pets, friends or family. It would be much worse if I had no place to stay and no money to feed myself. And it would also be worse if I let myself slip into pessimism and despair.
“I have nothing left” - this is probably the greatest lie. I have SO MUCH to be grateful for, and to be honest, I’m feeling that now more than ever.
The way we choose our language while healing is critically important. You are developing a narrative, a healing blueprint for future suffering, and the path you take will largely depend on the way you’ve been speaking to yourself. Make the language kind, and accurate.
All is not lost.
All is never lost.
(July 19, 2019)
This is not the life I envisioned for myself when I was younger, but I’m so happy I’ve had the courage to deviate from the plan and from the expectations of myself and others; had I not leaned into this knowing and deep trust, perhaps I would have gotten the life I envisioned but was not actually meant to live... As a child, I understood what it meant to listen to my heart. As an adult, I quickly began to lose that connection. I wrote off intuition as simply fear, proof of my own inadequacy. I hushed that voice over and over until it became a whisper and eventually faded away completely. And as that voice softened into oblivion my own light began to dim as well.
I’ve spent a lot of time wading through muddy waters, just trying to find my way back to heart centre. But this connection is never lost - it’s as though your radio is tuned to the wrong frequency and only static is getting through, until you turn the dial precisely to where it needs to be to make that connection and receive the broadcast with clarity. And until you do, you get these fuzzy messages with missing pieces, coming in and out of being in a clunky, uncomfortable way.
This process of dialling in is what connects us to our higher purpose. We’re not meant to simply get through each day; we’re here to live fully and experience all that life has to offer, and for each of us, that looks and feels a bit different. All is not lost when the things you’ve built start to crumble; maybe it was time to build on more solid ground, anyway. When things shift, especially when it feels confronting and difficult, try to remind yourself that you might just be turning that dial, finding a way back to the truest message that comes directly from the heart - the one that reminds you who you really are. ♡
(July 13, 2019)
how do you ride the downswings?
i have this tendency to
get lost in the shadows,
to sink down with the setbacks
and panic when life balances out
all of the beauty and sweetness
with long nights and darker days.
i forget about balance.
i forget that yin can be heavy
and sticky and while sometimes
terrifying, still safe.
i lose my grip on gratitude
and feel stuck when the truth
is that i’m just merging
through a slow spot.
(‘keep your eyes on the road’) •
and there is much to learn
from these trying times--
the most profound lessons
are always found
in the darkness.
i have to tell my heart:
we won’t be on this road forever.
day will break again soon
(it always does).
i’ll see through the tall trees
and realize that
i’m always held in love.
everything will be okay.
everything is already perfect.
And so it is.
Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert; April 6, 1931 - December 22, 2019) passed away peacefully in his Hawaii home yesterday, surrounded by his loved ones. I never had the good fortune of personally meeting him, though his teachings influenced my life in a way that will forever impact the nature of my heart in this lifetime. When asked who my teachers are, Ram Dass is the first person I mention: my "love guru"; he was a Bhakti yogi who taught me innumerable lessons about truly living a path of love.
He taught me how to see people as souls.
My heart is bursting with gratitude for being blessed by his divine love and yet I can't stop the tears from flowing; between gasping for breath and clenching my chest there is laughter, because one of his greatest lessons was on how to live blissfully in the temporality of existence:
As long as you identify with that which dies, there is always fear of death, because it's the fear of cessation of existence."
And he will never really be gone because he lives in the hearts of so many others who will continue to pass on his teachings to those around them. If you've been to one of my yoga classes or guided meditations in recent years, it's very likely that you've heard me speak about him, directly quote him, or play one of the songs he collaborated on with East Forest. I will forever love him and share this love with anyone who will listen.
Beginning his life as Richard Alpert and finding great success in academia, Ram Dass went through his own transformation in the 60s, having pursued power and prestige in the earlier years of his life and then coming to understand (originally through the potency of a profound first psilocybin experience) that the radiant and incomparable power of love lived inside of him. He subsequently travelled to India and met his guru, Maharaji, who gave him the name Ram Dass and ushered in his next great spiritual awakening. It was the unconditional love of his guru that set him on the path of Bhakti yoga, himself becoming the embodiment of pure love and undertaking a total devotion to sharing these lessons for the remainder of his beautiful life.
Ram Dass has taught thousands of us how to free our hearts from the anxieties of living and the trap of eternal seeking. He taught me how to uplift my own heart and elevate my consciousness through simple mantras and reminders of the gift of life - I am loving awareness / love everyone and tell the truth / be here now.
From the ego, death is a stopping point - it's the end of the ego. Death is a ceremony. The ego sees death as suffering, and the soul sees death as the awakening of a new world, a new perspective."
Welcome to a new world, dear one. You will never be forgotten.
Sarasponda Yoga has gone quiet in recent months as I’ve moved through some major changes in my life. I’ve been focused on making this transition with patience and grace and have been sharing my experience primarily through my personal page on Instagram.
It’s been a time of massive growth and transformation, and I wanted to wait until I felt solid ground under my feet before sharing more on the yoga side of things. I started this business over three years ago in a hopeless time in my life and it grew into something so much more dynamic and fulfilling than I ever could’ve imagined. Sarasponda Yoga was born of love and hope and a deep trust in the universe, and I’ve always been conscious of honouring and respecting this business that has become such a beautiful blessing in my life. But, I've been neglecting this blog and I feel now like this is the perfect time to return to it.
I left my home in Southern Alberta about a month ago to begin a new chapter in my life, having accepted an incredible offer to join the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise as their yoga instructor. I’m living steps away from Lake Louise and the energy here is so palpable - this stunning landscape has breathed new life into my soul; this feels like a total rebirth, in the best possible way.
After having some difficult experiences working with small businesses over the past year or so, I was seeking a mutually supportive work placement that would encourage me in continued personal and professional growth. And the Fairmont has definitely delivered on this; I feel fully supported by my team and really the entire hotel staff. There is so much opportunity here, and I'm just getting started.
I’ve been truly blown away by the kindness and heartfelt generosity of the community within the hotel; the people here seem so uplifted by this experience and opportunity that there’s just a general sense of joy and liveliness everywhere you go. This is such an incredible group of humans and I often find myself asking how I got so lucky to become a part of it. Coming to Lake Louise has felt like being adopted into a big, beautiful, loving family; I have so many new brothers and sisters, and I love them with all of my heart.
The title of this post is the answer to the question I've been crying out to the universe in desperation for the past few months.
The question is, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?
Now, "do nothing" is not the answer I wanted, but it is undeniably the answer I continue to receive.
I've gone through some major upheaval in my life recently, and this is essentially a euphemistic way of saying that I have blown it all to shreds over the past couple of months. I was beginning to notice that the structure of my experience was taking on all of the meaning and purpose that should have been comfortably tucked away in my heart; I was identifying too strongly with my ego and not serving my soul, and I also noticed that I was keeping myself comfortable but limited by remaining where I was. So, in typical Sarah fashion, I made some drastic changes. I started to (*truly*, dedicatedly) listen to my heart/intuition/gut/dreams/guides, and I could not escape the resounding message that I simply was not living in alignment with my heart's purpose -- this accounted for the inescapable dissonance that had become the soundtrack to my life.
In the spring, I left the yoga studio I was working at because of ongoing issues within the industry that I felt no longer able to accept. I quickly found what appeared to be a great job - a Coordinator position for a local no-profit - but I ended up leaving after four days because of inexcusable treatment from the Director. That entire experience was intense and very difficult for me, but the way I handled it was incredibly empowering and helped to remind me of my inherent personal power.
At this point, my love and home life had been suffering for some time and I was really struggling to make any improvements in these areas. Cam and I had some big fights and long discussions and ultimately determined it was time to split. I still have so much love for him as a person, a friend, and essentially family, and I have no intention of making him a villain here; our experience will forever be ours, between only us, and I'm so grateful that he was a part of my life in this way.
Certain relationships began to take on new energy and help me navigate this difficult path: my dearest friends and family stepped up with incredible love and strength and clarity when I felt lacking in these areas myself. A year ago, I would have told you I had nothing and no one supporting me. But a year ago, I was kind of an asshole stuck in a victim mentality. My relationship with Self has also taken on an entirely new dimension, and I've been doing the serious, gritty, challenging internal work with more vigour and determination than ever.
This was the stuff that really scared me, facing all of the shit that kept me in a low-level version of my life. But I knew there was work to be done, and this was absolutely the time to do it. So I started breaking everything down and cutting out anything that just didn't feel like me.
After a little while, the most beautiful thing happened: I became reacquainted with my Self. And I remembered how to properly love her.
Now, I'm done hiding. I'm done playing it safe. And I am done minimizing my power to suit my fear.
If I sound empowered and inspired to take action and start seriously changing my life, it's because I really, really am. But, here's the problem (ie. solution): everything right now is telling me to slow down, even to stop moving completely:
Maybe this sounds counterintuitive to you - it certainly did to me - but over and over again, this is the answer I've received to my constant badgering of the Universe ('what do I do now???').
I've been particularly in tune with my intuition lately and have felt more connected to Source energy than ever before in my life. Prior to asking this one big question, I had been asking many smaller ones and receiving the answers with clarity and acceptance. But with this one, the big, important one, I resisted so hard, convincing myself that I was simply not getting anything back - not receiving any transmission at all - when in reality I was rejecting the message because it didn't offer any direction: it was not what I wanted to hear.
I was desperate, flailing, screaming and begging for a lifesaver from the Universe. (You don't need to be religious to have had this moment at some point in your life - and if not yet, you will - of begging some higher power for help...)
I kept asking, praying, begging for an answer, and the Universe gently whispered, "do nothing."
So I protested: "NO! I NEED TO DO SOMETHING!! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO???"
I picked up Miriam, Toews' beautiful novel, All My Puny Sorrows, at the Vancouver airport while waiting for my return flight home. I looked around for quite some time before I chose a book (this is actually one of my favourite mildly guilty pleasures: the airport book purchase; it feels important... chosen... sacred... ) and I'd read (and loved) A Complicated Kindness years ago, plus I'm into supporting Canadian female authors, so it just felt like the right choice.
The sisters in this novel could easily be two sides of my own personality (the relationship is not so trite as the simple contrast between darkness and light - it's more like a lesson in loving all of these parts of ourselves through chaos and grief and uncertainty), and in seeing myself through this story, I began to speak to my own shadow sides, bringing them back into the light, and asking them to forgive me for their banishment. (And you know what, those shady bitches always come back home, despite the attitude.)
At one point in the book, Yoli recounts a dream she had in which everything is falling apart around her (literally) and she's filled with deafening anxiety and gut-wrenching despair, and in a moment of perfect peace and clarity, she hears (or thinks, or whatever): DO NOTHING.
I put the book down, closed my eyes, and took some slow, deep breaths. And of course, being the sensitive flower that I am, I began to cry.
I've been crying a lot over the past couple of months, because I'd been feeling sorry for myself. I'd taken some time to feel what I felt and grieve and heal, and I figured enough was enough: time to get shit done. But these tears were different: they were soft and full and fell off of my cheeks like perfect droplets of grace and love. Like an offering. Like a blessing. Not rushed, fully welcomed, and just perfect in their existence.
So much has changed in the past month - I keep changing, becoming more and more like myself - and while I'm remaining open to direction and ideas and inspiration, I'm not overwhelmed with anxiety about the future anymore. I don't feel like I need to have everything figured out right now, or tomorrow, or next week. I'm staying present, saying yes to things that feel expansive and no to anything that gives me the bad juuj; I'm carefully cultivating my experience without becoming rigid in trying to control everything.
I need a new job. And I need a new home. And yes, these are basic requirements for stability and produce an incredible amount of stress when not properly met. However, I executed what I needed to at a critical time - I focused my energy on something that I could do - and the settlement agreement (that we completed in under a month) ensures I'm supported in this transition and equipped to take on a brand new life, as soon as it's ready for me (or when I'm ready for it, or however this works). I continue to apply for work that seems really well-suited to who I am, and not necessarily based on what I've achieved.
And I feel really confident that I'm going to find my way through this, coming out the other side of it much better than before. This is not arrogance or laziness or expecting things to perfectly fall into place; it's putting complete trust in something bigger than myself, and then in myself. It's a deep knowing that I'm precisely where I need to be in every moment.
I'm not angry at anyone or about anything. I've spent so much time working through my suffering and my baggage, and I've found a new lightness and optimism from this beautiful opportunity to begin again. After all, when it comes down to it, that's what this really is: a new beginning, a chance to dream more wildly and listen better and connect more deeply and follow my heart.
I've been using two particular mantras during this period, when I start to feel down or anxious about my circumstances:
The first is pretty self-explanatory. The latter, of course, required a blog post for me to properly digest and express.
"DO NOTHING" doesn't mean you're giving up: it means you're not fighting against the natural flow of life.
"DO NOTHING" doesn't make you lazy; it creates space for your dharmic path to unfold.
"DO NOTHING" is complete trust and acceptance - and this is how we liberate the spirit.
When you stop scurrying to fix everything you deem to be wrong and trying to address every thought that crosses your mind, you become reminded of that endless well of compassion and peace that exists at the centre of yourself:
It's safe here, and everything is perfect, exactly as it is. There is nothing to do.