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Gratitude amidst the cleaning

It’s mid-morning and I am mopping the floors, and cleaning the bathroom and the counters.  I have been enjoying taking time to prepare my home studio space each week for the students who will come to sit, explore and practice.  All of it feels sacred, from cleaning the toilet to preparing the class I will offer.  The entire space becomes a fertile ground for meeting oneself and others, and for nourishing our spirit and seeing where growth is available.  No matter how messy or beautiful an individual or the collective practice feels, this is a training ground for how we show up in life.

Though lately my writing has been left to reflections that I often hold within, today I wanted to share a note of gratitude for the students who have opened up to themselves in my home and have given me the honor of guiding them. ❤

 

 

 

Service & Community: Offerings from my Home

Over the past year, I have been contemplating the idea of opening my home studio space to be in service of community and the practices of meditation and iRest® yoga nidra.  The calling is finally coming to life as I have started hosting my first four week meditation series with a beautiful circle of people.

My intention for these offerings is twofold: to hold a space that feels safe, grounded and nourishing so that students can sit within the depths of their experience and wisdom, and to nurture a circle of community so that we can listen openly and share as it feels ok.  It can be profoundly transformative to have spaces where we feel seen, heard and valued by others.

As offerings arise, I will share both here on my website under events, as well as on my facebook page.  These will be small group classes that will require prior confirmation. At the request from students, I am also maintaining a list of people who wish to be informed about classes by email.  If this kind of offering resonates with you and you would like to be informed via email, please feel free send me your information at irestaustin@gmail.com .

I will use your email for that purpose alone and will not share it otherwise.

Here is a little glimpse of the space that I am so happy to share.

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Out beyond the ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.  Rumi

 

With Gratitude,

Sheila Singh

 

Arriving

I was fortunate this week to have the opportunity to watch Walk with Me, a documentary about Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village monastery.  Rather than attempting to expound upon his teachings, the documentary offered a more experiential feel into life in Plum Village. Very much like Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings, the documentary experience was subtle, simple and direct.

Thich Nhat Hahn cuts through a lot of language and describes meditation as the simplicity of arriving into the direct experience of this moment, over and over again.  In keeping with this spirit, a bell goes off every fifteen minutes in Plum Village as a call to pause and arrive here and now.  ‘Here’ is the amalgam of sounds in the environment, the feeling of earth beneath you, the touch of sky above, the eyes of the one across you, the sensations of your body breathing now. It is that simple and perhaps that elusive. Rather than arriving in this way, we may spend many moments of our day in the world of our preoccupations – our plans for tomorrow, the residual feelings of the past, all the things I wish I or someone else had done. The list can be quite long.

Adyashanti says, “Our mind is looking for answers, but our heart is looking for a deep, direct experience with existence”.  Looking for answers can be exhausting, and without reprieve, we may be looking in all the same places with little room for anything new. More so, I don’t always feel at home in my mind, but when I drop in directly, often regardless of the circumstance, I begin to feel the soft touch of ease offer its embrace. I begin to feel at home, and, in time, available to a wisdom that is more intuitive than mechanical.

While the simplicity of direct experience is always here, we need the support of daily and frequent reminders.  Perhaps we pause every morning or before every meal. Every stop at an intersection can become the opportunity to breath and feel, rather than remaining absorbed in the preoccupations.  We can even ask ourselves, am I living directly in the world in this moment or am I living in the world of my preoccupations?  If the preoccupations are there, we are not trying to push them away. We are simply widening our field of attention to include more than the thoughts.

If you would like, try it right now.

Wherever you are, begin to listen and feel the energy of the sounds around you.

Feel the sensation of earth beneath you…    And the sky above.

Feel the melodies of life within you, the heart beating, the body breathing and the field of sensations.

Feel yourself arriving, here now, simple and direct.

For more about the documentary, explore here – http://walkwithmefilm.com/.

 

 

 

Skyward and Earthbound

I have never known anyone who felt self important in the morning after spending a night on an Idaho mountainside under a star studded summer sky.  Frank Church

These words sum up time away in Idaho with my family. Throughout the week, amidst the mountains, beside the glacial lakes and flowing rivers, I am continually reminded of being a part of something larger. I soak up the moments of self-preoccupations fading into the background as the mystery and aliveness of the universe flood forward.  Wonder, awe and humility are welcome visitors.  In daily life, it is easy and human to get snagged by our stories, our plans and agendas, history and anticipation.  The stories are not the problem, it is our fixation (for some even addiction) to them that creates a heaviness in life.

Amidst nature, for a time life falls into place and perspective.  The self takes up a little less mental bandwidth, making room for the many things that otherwise go unnoticed, unseen and unheard.

I return home with my self in tact.  In fact, we need it to function in the world, but today it feels lighter and more porous, available and open to life.  I am thankful for the time to be away and to be humbled, at the same time uplifted by the earth and the sky in all of its grandeur and brought back down, grounded and at home.

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The Sawtooth Mountains

 

Waking up to the laundry.

I’ve returned from time away with my family in the Caribbean and the spacious and restful quality of vacation seems to be lingering forward even as work begins, laundry piles up and dishes need to be emptied from the dishwasher.  It is an interesting paradox to experience.  I return to life pretty much as it was, yet it all feels slightly different.

There is a zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”.  I am not claiming enlightenment, but I do feel more spacious in myself and my experience.  Awakening or enlightenment can arise in varied degrees, but I feel it is much more subtle than we otherwise might imagine it to be.  It is not always some grand and blissful experience.  Often it may be a more subtle enlivening of that which is ordinary.  In fact, the simple things that we miss can come alive in extraordinary ways … the breath, the wind and, yes, even the everyday mundane task of unloading the dryer and folding the laundry.  There is space for it all. Enlightenment is simply feeling a little (or more) lighter in our experience.  There is room for it to come and go without the constant and habitual identification and controlling.

So as I return, and life chores need attending and my girls continue to play and fight fiercely at times, there is this quality of allowing life to be as it is.  And even when the dialogue arises, “I wish my girls would quiet down” or “I’m tired of the laundry”, these thoughts can come and go as well.

Everything is the same and everything is different.  Life is still ordinary, and simultaneously precious and extraordinary.

Marcel Proust describes my feeling well.  “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

While the spaciousness and freshness may subside into the background at any moment, I am thankful for it now and trust it is always here waiting.