Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Last December I did something really delicious for myself. I wanted to take scheduled time to reflect on my year and ponder the upcoming year. With just a couple of books, pen and paper, food, a few change of clothes, and my yoga mat I set off on my very first silent retreat.
The location couldn’t have been any more perfect. I settled into a tiny cabin called Simplicity located at Cedars of Peace, an area designated for silence and solitude in central Kentucky. I built a fire daily. I walked on a blanket of snow. I ate simply. I talked to no one. I enjoyed utter silence with the exception of a crackling fire, a whistling teapot and the sounds of nature. I did yoga and wrote throughout the day.
It was pure bliss.
In her book “The Not So Big Life”, Sarah Susanka provides details on an exercise she calls the year end ritual. It is a most lovely ritual. Each year between Dec. 27 and Dec. 31 she schedules two hours daily for herself. She doesn’t answer the phone, or check email during that time. She instructs her family members not to interrupt her.
You can do as I did and go away for a retreat. You can take time off and enjoy a “staycation” at home. You can even do this ritual if you are working daily by doing it in the evening time.
She recommends you stick to the ten hours and try to avoid interruptions, fully gifting yourself with your undivided attention. She also suggests that you focus on three areas:
1. Questions about the past year.
2. Questions about the present.
3. Questions about the future.
Questions about the past year can include:• How have I spent my time?
•What were my challenges and how have I been changed by them?
•What were my accomplishments and how have I been changed by them?
•What were my sorrows and disappointments, and how have I been changed by them?
•What journeys have I taken?
•What habitual patterns have I experimented with or changed?
Questions about the present can include:•How am I different now from the way I was last year at this time?
•How can I integrate the key lessons of the past year in my life?
•Are there any things I’m being asked to do right now that I am rejecting? If so, what would happen if I simply did them?
•What recent synchronicities do I recall? What do they appear to point toward?
•To what part of myself am I giving birth to?
•What am I becoming?
Questions about the future can include:
•Specifically, what is it that I wish to focus on or experience in the coming year?
•Looking back into the future, what wishes, longings, or creations will I be bringing into being or engaging in some way?
•If I could sum up all my desires and longings in one simple statement spoken from the highest aspect of myself, what would it be?
These are recommended questions by Sarah Susanka and you can find these and more in her book, “The Not So Big Life.” For more details about the end of year review go to http://www.notsobiglife.com/resources/documents/TheYearEndRitual.pdf
My life coach, Grace Caitlin also recommends taking time during the month of December to focus on the completion of the year. When we take time and properly bring closure to the current year we invite new energy, space, and potential for joy and goodness as we greet the New Year.
Grace suggests that you “get complete” on two things:
1.Things than involve other people.
2.Your physical surroundings.
She uses the term “get complete” as a verb. An incompletion means you are using your attention and energy of something or someone repeatedly. Over time this takes a lot of energy and can be a drain on your overall health and wellbeing. If something (or someone) crosses your mind three times you need to address it in some way, getting complete on this issue.
This morning I was talking on the phone with a friend. She is having one of those “blah” days that we can all relate to. Finally she said, “I just need to get these monkeys off my back.”
The monkeys she was referring to are the tasks she has been blowing off. She even said they “are sucking the life out of me.” She’s constantly thinking about them, they are weighing her down. How many of us can relate? These monkeys, these things in which we are incomplete in some way take away our peace and joy.
In order to get complete with things that involve other people ponder if there were times in which you didn’t express yourself in some way. Were there any agreements broken by you or by someone else? Were there times you didn’t have clear boundaries in place and harbored resentment? Were there times you didn’t express thanks to someone else? Have you been mentally appreciating someone but haven’t told them so? Did someone teach you a great lesson and you have yet to acknowledge it?
These are some examples of closures that involve other people. What else can you add to this list?
Now let’s shift gears and give time and attention to your physical surroundings. Take a pen and some paper out. Walk into your kitchen and write “kitchen” at the top of a piece of paper. Look around your space with fresh eyes. Are the things in your space aligned with who you are and your values? Does the space represent who you (and your family) are? What are the projects you want to do with the space? What are the items you need to clear out? Do you need to bring in any items to beautify your kitchen? What are the little things you are tolerating that drain you in little ways (a light bulb that needs changed, cleaning out the fridge, a lingering spider web, unorganized cabinets, etc).
There are three criteria to decide to keep an item:
1. Do I love it?
2. Do I use it?
3. Does it serve me?
Continue this same process for each room in your house. When you finish you’ll have a master list. You’ll be able to complete some things this year. Some things like big projects you want to complete may need to hold off. That’s ok. Put everything you want to see happen in your spaces on your list.
Hoping you can carve out some time to review your year and dream for 2012.
I promise, it's soooo worth the time and effort.
Only three more days......
Posted by Sharon Tessandori at 2:39 PM
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
On my way back from Owensboro today I made a stop in Louisville to visit with a near and dear friend. A soul sister in the sweetest of ways.
There was deep appreciation.
And hearty laughs.
There was so much deliciousness in our recent stories of the spirit that one latte alone would not suffice.
We made a quick trip to the the local bookstore. A quick trip that resulted in me buying three new books of poetry. I was so enthralled with these words that my eyes landed upon in opening "Letters to a Young Poet" that I immediately dog eared the page so I could quickly come back to at as soon as I got home.
Here they are for you to enjoy and ponder:
"You have had many great sorrows, which have passed away. And you say that even this passing was difficult and jarring for you. But please consider whether these great sorrows have not passed through the midst of yourself? Whether much in you has not altered, whether you have not somehow changed in some part of your being, while you were sorrowful?
Therefore it is, also, that the sorrow passes by us: the new thing in us, that has been added to us, has entered into our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber, and is no more even there, is already in the blood. And we do not realize what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing had happened, and yet we have been changed, as a house is changed into which a guest has entered. We cannot say who has come, perhaps we shall never know, but there are many indications to suggest that the future is entering into us in this manner in order to transform itself within us long before it happened."
And so here I sit in my bed...
A new candle burning (thanks Mama Tessandori)
Two mini chocolates on the nightstand and a hot cuppa chamomile vanilla tea.
Three new books of poetry.
An Oasis of Stillness.
A ganesha notebook to fill with questions and answers.
As I reflect back on this year of.....
Oh 2011 you have rocked my world in every way I could imagine.
I bow to You and your mysterious ways.
I trust that the experiences I've had, the people I've met, the places I've traveled, the lessons I've learned, and the aha's I've received will bend, shape, and mold me into the person I most need to be.
*Photo by Jennifer Christman*
Posted by Sharon Tessandori at 8:32 PM
Saturday, December 24, 2011
"May you be truly blessed to always glitter with a radiance that shines from deep within you." ~Barbara Becker Holstein
Greetings Friends! I'm in Owensboro celebrating the season with my family, The Tessandoris. We're cooking, drinking wine, reading magazines, napping, listening to holiday tunes, and having a merry ol' time.
I just wanted you to that you I am thinking of you.
I'm thinking of students and teachers, both near and far.
I'm thinking of mentors, family, and friends I've encountered in this game of Life.
Thank you for being in a life and making me who I am.
May you be blessed with goodness, grace and glitter.
May you shine like the radiant being you are.
namaste & a humble bow,
**photo from Rumi fanpage**
Posted by Sharon Tessandori at 3:03 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Last week when I ventured off to Cali I made the big decision not to take my lil pinktop (netbook) with me. An unusual thing for me.
I thought that between my blackberry and ipod I would be as connected as I needed to be. I could still return brief emails and post pictures onto the blog and facebook.
But I gotta say that as soon as I arrived at the airport I thought, "What have I done?!" I'm connected often. Really often.
One of the many great conversations we had at my life coach immersion was the ways in which we take we remove ourselves from presence, as in the present moment. (The photo above is my last morning post yoga on the beach with Grace, my mentor.)
Around the circle and in general we discussed the things we do to numb ourselves.
Guess what mine was? Being connected. To email, blogs, pretty pictures and websites, facebook, itunes, and a variety of other random things. Just as I type this my blackberry is letting me know that I have an email. Even though I want to know what the email is I'm choosing to sit here and breathe instead. :)
It's easy for me to blame...uhhh I mean validate my connected ways due to the studio. "My work demands that I spend more time online."
I know it's not true and that I'm only trying to fool myself.
I enjoyed one whole week with minimal time digitally connected. It was a digital detox of sorts. I checked my email once in the morning and once in the evening, spending less than ten minutes. I listened to voice messages and returned calls once every day.
Guess what? It was realllly awesome. Loved it.
I do adore my online time when I spend it wisely. I get much inspiration from being online. But there are the minutes and hours I spend wasting time, numbing myself out.
So I'm going to explore being more present with this. Think of how I can use my time online wisely. Think of the boundaries I need to have in place to maintain balance in the digital world.
How about you? Do you feel happy with the amount of time you spend online and how do you create balance in this area?
Posted by Sharon Tessandori at 6:45 PM
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I arrived home late last night from California. Some of you have seen photos of Sonoma Ashram which is where I stayed Monday - Friday. The video above will give you a tiny taste of just how sweet this place is plus the amazing work they are doing in the world.
Everything about it.
I journaled nearly four straight hours on my flight yesterday from San Francisco to Chicago about my trip. I'm saving most of it for myself. For now anyway. My trip, especially my time at the ashram was very different than I expected it to be.
I was excited to see a dear yoga student and spend much time alone, contemplating the year. Similar to my silent retreat in the woods last December. I was planning to visit local coffee shops to read and write. Perhaps tour a couple of wineries. It is Sonoma afterall. ;)
I did very little of any, especially the latter. Much of my waking time was spent with people there. Either residents, fellow retreatees, and the monk who resides at the ashram.
I spent little time reflecting on my roller coaster of a year. Mostly I basked in the goodness around me. And it felt good.
I thought I wanted, that I needed to be alone with my own thoughts and emotions.
What I needed was to be in the company, in a community of others on a path of love. I needed to get out of my head and use my hands.
I needed to help. To give back. To be of service.
I needed to get back to my meditation practice.
I needed to sing, and chant, and walk with no particular destination in mind.
I needed to stop doing. And get back to being.
I needed to be reminded that I am indeed on the right path.
I needed to be in the presence of someone who reminded me that we are all divine indeed.
I needed to be reminded that there is magic and mystery all around us. And that sometimes all it takes is a pause.
I needed to be reminded of my intuition.
And the goodness of giving and the power of a smile and a kind word.
My time included twice daily meditations.
Daily group inspirational reading and discussion while sipping homemade Tulsi tea (the tulsi is grown and dried at the ashram).
Digging in dirt to help with a paving project.
Folding and stuffing papers.
Teaching yoga. Talking yoga.
Walking the labryinth.
Sitting in one of the many perfect spots for meditation or sun bathing.
Listening inquisitively to the most enlightening yet practical teachings I've ever heard.
Sacred time spent with Babaji.
It's only now that I realize just how much I needed this time.
I can't wait to see those of you here at the studio soon! I've missed you.....
Posted by Sharon Tessandori at 1:27 PM
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Greetings Friends! Here are a few photos snapped in and around Sonoma Ashram. The photos fail to express just how sweet this place is. I'm holding true to my word of staying disconnected. I'm typing now on my iPod. My time here has been nothing of what I expected and more than I imagined. I'm drawing deep and profound wisdom and joy from all those here.
a happy sharon
Posted by Sharon Tessandori at 12:19 AM
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Happy Sunday to all of you. I've only got a few short minutes here (I'm packing for a trip to CA tomorrow!) but we've got too much goodness going on at the studio for me not to take a minute here.
First off, I'm reeling from a fabulous weekend with Leeann Carey and the awesome yoginis I was surrounded by this weekend. Loved. Every. Moment.
Warrior II pinned to the wall with Leeann pressing into my legs and lovingly yanking on a strap all at the same time. Wowsers, that was something every yogi needs to experience. A good pain I tell ya. :) Seriously, all of you need to run to the studio the next time she comes back. Of course I couldn't let her get away without a "so when are you coming back to KY?".
Pure joy being on my yoga mat for three whole days immersed in the yoga love.
All of you should hop on over NOW and sign up for Sarah's restorative workshop scheduled for this Friday. For real, you are in for a real treat as you're getting her fresh from this inspiring weekend in which we explored lots of restorative yoga. That's Leeann assisting my pal Jen above. Cool, right?
AND did you here, I'm giving away a totally FREE yoga retreat to Shakertown. Yep, it's true.
I'm feeling the desire to give back, as I've been given so much from all of you. I am offering a 100% scholarship to one lucky yogi for our upcoming retreat to Shakertown. You can get the full scoop here: http://www.barefootworks.com/retreats_shaker_village.html
To enter, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with "new year retreat" in the subject. Tell me three things:
1. What your yoga practice means to you.
2. How coming to classes at Barefoot Works has enriched your life.
3. Why you would like to come to the retreat.
Pretty simple, right?! Please send me your email before December 15 to enter. I hope you'll take advantage of the sweet deal.
We still have two, maybe three spots open for the Shakertown retreat if you're interested in kicking off your new year in yoga style.
Also, it is my hope to serve all of you better than ever next year. In order to surpass all of your yoga dreams I need your input. Please take three minutes to complete a five question survey. Enter your name in the last question for a chance to win five yoga classes. Another sweet deal.
Click here for that link:
So please go, go, go and let me know how we can make you uber happy yogis in the coming year. It's gonna be a good one.
Posted by Sharon Tessandori at 7:02 PM
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
At the young and impressionable age of twenty five I began my quest for contentment and bliss. At the time I had achieved a lot, especially so coming from the modest family I did. I managed to remove myself from my Appalachian roots and get myself away to college. I graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University .
I did the unthinkable. I left the state of Kentucky and moved away to Texas for a job soon after completing my master’s program. Andy, my fiancée (and now husband) at the time stayed in school and completed his degree. Within a year of starting my job and at the age of twenty three, Andy and I were married and we did what couples do next, bought a three bedroom house with a two car garage and settled in the suburbs of Houston.
I channeled all my physical and mental energy to become what I thought was successful. Success must look completely different than everything I knew as a child I thought. I advanced in my job quickly and was promoted two times. Anything I lacked from my childhood years I was making up for. I actually had freedom and the money to do things I’d never been able to do before. It was a whole new world.
Everything was great except I felt alone and deeply discontented.
I was also very confused. I had worked so hard to have all the things I had. I was at the place I had always imagined as perfection. I told myself I should be more grateful for my husband, home, opportunities, and general abundance. I was one of the fortunate ones in my family after all. If happiness wasn’t found in my home, marriage, and job then where would I find it?
Rumi says, “You are a sea of gnosis hidden in a drop of dew,
You are a whole universe hidden in a sack of blood.
What are all this world’s pleasures and joys
That you keep grasping at them to make you alive?
Does the sun borrow light from a mote of dust?
Does Venus look for wine from a cracked jug?”
Turns out I was grasping for the things I thought equaled contentment and joy. I wasn’t living in my own accord. I didn’t know myself well enough to know what true joy looked like. I would have to untangle my thoughts and beliefs about what bliss was and what it looked like for me. Not society, my family, and my friends. Not even my husband. I had to define happiness for myself and give myself permission to create and color my own bliss in a way that felt true to my heart.
This was the beginning of a radical time of growth and transformation. It was also the start of my yoga journey. As my world around me unraveled it was my desire to know myself and the meaning of pure joy that helped me keep it together.
My yoga practice was a safe haven during an otherwise treacherous time. It was my yoga practice and the spiritual books I devoured that helped me to open my eyes and allow me to begin seeing life in a whole new light.
Yoga didn’t give me all the answers I desired. As I moved, bended, twisted, stretched, and strengthened I connected to my body in new ways. This felt very different than the exercise I was doing at the gym. I found that by focusing on my body and breath for 75 minutes I was able to disconnect from the endless chatter in my mind that consisted mostly of worries and fears at the time. Yoga helped me to connect deeply to my heart.
From that place I began asking myself, “What is it that I really want for my life?”
Something amazing began to happen. I began to see clearly what I wanted for myself. I was able to identify my hang-ups and my old ways of placing my happiness in the hands of others around me. What I recall most is being excited about my future, something I hadn’t felt for a while. My yoga practice helped me to get a glimpse of the possibilities that existed in my future. It was that time I was able to begin to visualize and define what I wanted my life to look like. It was radically different than what my family history was. It was different than what my beliefs were about what an adult is “supposed” to do in life.
As it turned out what I really wanted my life to look like was radically different than the life I was currently living. I wanted my husband and a handful of treasured friendships I’d created in Texas but that was all.
Rumi says, “Destroy your own house, destroy it now!
Don’t wait one more minute! Pull the whole house down!
A treasure greater than Pharaoh’s is hidden under it.
Go and build with that a million houses!
In the end, whether you like it or not,
Your house will be pulled down and destroyed,
And the treasure under it revealed.”
I would need to destroy my house if I wanted to discover the treasure underneath it. That was the path I chose. Part of me was nervous and scared as hell, but a bigger part of me knew this was the way.
I was setting off on a journey to bliss.
Posted by Sharon Tessandori at 8:26 PM
Thursday, December 01, 2011
At lunch I sent Andy a text that said, "I just had one of those moments where you feel pure joy for no reason. I'm excited for the holiday." Or that was what it said in mine and Andy's odd and lovely lingo language. ;)
First of all did were you as mesmerized as I by the frost, the sunrise, and the glorious colors of the landscapes this morning? Even my drive down Lex's most nightmarish road (Nicholasville Rd. of course) was intoxicatingly beautiful. Bliss.
I'm not certain if it was jammin' down Nicholasville Rd. to Sugarland, hearing Jennifer Nettles scream to me (my volume is stuck on one level and to say it's loud is putting it mildly)....
"Gotta get a handle on a situation.
Operation, working vacation."
I couldn't help my smile. This yogini can so relate to those words. Bliss.
The happies could have come from the mystery magic citrus that I learned of two days ago. Once a month a big truck comes from Florida with boxes and boxes of goodness....oranges and grapefruit.
I felt like I was part of some super secret club when I pulled up to the big truck, rolled my window down, and all the gentleman said was, "We're selling from the parking lot behind Applesbees." Hmmmm are we speaking of citrus fruit I wondered?
I decided that even if the oranges tasted like ass it was worth it just for the experience. But they are oh so good. I have a fridge full to last a month before the semi truck full of citrus returns for two hours to sell in a parking lot. Bliss.
My morning class was filled with yogi awesomeness. Bliss.
I set in what may be my new fave spot at Coffee Times. I am a fan of the nooks. You know the cozy spots that just call for you to get cozy. They are most often built for one and they call out to me. They have the sweetest nook in the very back where they grind the coffee beans. One cozy chair + two side tables to put books, coffee, and such. Bliss.
While nooking it I decided I wanted to deck out the studio for the winter season. I figured the first day of December was the perfect time to do so. So I set off and bought two lil baby trees, greenery, fresh wreaths, poinsettias, twinkle lights, and white candles. I decorated with sinigng along with Krishna Das.
I finished, turned the lamps on, lit the candles, and basked in a`bit o bliss. It looks oh so pretty if I do say so myself.
Perfect timing at the yogis filled the studio for a lovely evening class. I do love the way the studio glows at this time in the evening. I can see the sun set from the studio then the sky turns a brilliant color. Yogis are moving are unison, their breath fills their body, their energy fills the studio with goodness. Bliss.
Welcome December. I'm a fan.
Posted by Sharon Tessandori at 8:33 PM