My May Newsletter

Hello beautiful women,

May became a favorite month of mine when I became a mother ~ Mother’s Day is a wonderful holiday for me and I know it to be a painful holiday for some.  Regardless of what the holiday is wrapped up in for you – I wish you a day that is fluid and that you may revel in shunyata.

Shunyata is a new word for me – making itself known at a perfect time in my life.
I intimately know this Buddhist term – I have been practicing the meaning of it for years now.
It is my primary practice since becoming a mother – I just did not realize it.  I had been seeking flow.

Pema Chodron defines shunyata as the

fact that we actually have a seed of spaciousness, of freshness, openness, relaxation, in us”.

I am appreciating her book, How to Meditate, a book that I was resistant to at first; a meditation series that I participated in almost a decade ago was the first ‘practice’ that spotlighted my dark corners, it highlighted my chaotic inner life and uncovered my not so great ways.  That meditation series was one of the first explorations I dabbled in in my journey of emploding-awake; a difficult and honest time in my life which gratefully led to intentional living.  I was resistant to this book because here 10 years later I didn’t want to discover more ‘work’ to do (as if it ever ends..but I appreciate the word ‘exploration’ now).  I had somehow reached a much more fluid, pleasurable, and peaceful way of living and it was not due to a formalized practice of any kind.  Or was it?. 

Practices require time and dedication and in the early years of motherhood, and still really, those two words didn’t fit into my too busy life.  If I was practicing anything it was begrudgingly letting go of my practices; when I noticed that trying to have anything consistent in my life like swimming, yoga, hiking, biking or skiing, my preferred ‘practices’ that induced bliss prior to kids, was causing me stress-guilt-frustraion I purposely declared that I wanted to find flow – in the daily grind of motherhood.
I wrote about it 4 years ago and when I read it now I have this OMG realization of – I have done it! 

I believe shunyata to be the resonance of flow.

I have a B.S. degree in Parks, Recreation & Tourism with an emphasis in Recreational Therapy.  A foundational pillar of RT is encouraging flow and leisure time as a tool for enhancing the quality of a persons life, ultimately benefiting health and well-being.

“Flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning.
In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized,
and aligned with the task at hand.

The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.”

( Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

When shunyata, our innate seed of spaciousness, openness, and relaxation is nurtured, encouraged and supported –
sustained states of flow occur more often. 

When we have more spontaneous joy, pleasure, and rapture in our life —
we live a more integrated and illuminated existence.
Life becomes more beautiful and fulfilling.

Honoring and enhancing shunyata – therefore ‘practicing’ it – regularly throughout my day, is my primary practice.  I appreciate that it can be done anywhere, anytime, for seconds, minutes, and when lucky, hours; in this sustained state it represents flow.

This ‘practice’ is authentic to us.  It does not look like another persons, it does not require a guru or a teacher (although helpful), and it does not require a class setting or a regular time to show up to (making it easier for active mothers!).It requires self study and then a dedicated path forward.
Nurturing the seed of shunyata, as often as possible throughout the day, is a powerful practice that in my experience leads to very mindful and intentional living.

I experience shunyata as tranquil expansion and possibility; literally in my bodily tissues an opening  occurs when I let down my tension and spend a few extra seconds absorbing and honoring the spaciousness that rises within me; in this space I find potential for who I truly am to exist.

It is the most gentle, authentic, peaceful, supportive and
reverent place that I know –
it is like coming home in my body. 
And I am so grateful for this very simple practice because it has literally changed my life.  Below is my practice in a nutshell:Repetition is the key.

* let down tension – more easily done with an emphasis on the exhale
~ find chronically held tension (shoulders, neck, back, hips?)
* absorb the pleasurable expansion that occurs naturally when oxygenated blood is delivered to the body – send that oxygen to areas of tension
~ sincerely pretend that you can feel it if you can’t at first.
* stay there for 30 more seconds, really feel what occurs
~ explore the expansion as if it is real.  It is.
* repeat – often
~ it can literally be done anywhere at anytime
* with this we honor shunyata
~ and with this we begin to live a different life

~ Reprogram your body to believe and crave that “relaxation is who you are, tension is who you think you should be”. (Chinese proverb) ~

This is my soapbox – you will certainly hear more from me on this, especially as it relates to motherhood.

My Mother’s Day gift to you is a question:

Do you dare to worship shunyata?
Do you dare to honor, above all else, your authentic seed of
relaxation, spaciousness, freshness, and openness
for one full year?In my experience this practice requires a bit of a rebel spirit – something has to challenge that part of you that is addicted to being mindlessly productive, and/or that part of you that feels like seeking pleasure is selfish

– hence the dare.

If you answer “yes” would you please tell me the plan for your path forward?

If you struggle with a plan and would like some suggestions reply to this email and I will tell you my personal and favorite (they are simple)
ways of worshiping shunyata beyond what I have already shared.

I believe that practicing shunyata is an engagement with our soul.
It is very healing.  Very promising.  And it is extremely nourishing.
It is the epitome of self-love.

It is my favorite place to be.

And it has made me a much more enjoyable, genuine and generous person to be around.  There is absolutely nothing selfish about this outcome.  AND!  I am still productive – I’m just way less bitchy while being so.  Such a gift and refreshing for my loved ones.Happy Mother’s Day.

MonicaA deep bow and heart-full “Thank you” to the teachers who (unknowingly) encouraged this practice in me – you know who you are.

Read more on: Empowerment
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