All posts filed under: General

Buddhist Philosophy and Embodied Anatomy for Yoga Workshops

 Philosophy and Embodied Anatomy Workshops I am honored to host our guest instructor, Mark Chandlee Taylor, the Director of BodyMindMovement to facilitate the following embodied anatomy workshops for experienced yoga students and yoga teachers.  All workshops are held at Mookshi Wellness Center in the Regent Square neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Sessions begin with an hour of practice and discussion of the required text with Sharon which will be followed by a short break and then three-hours of anatomy with Mark.  All workshops are on Sundays from noon to 4:00 pm.  I recommend that all trainees obtain a copy of “Awakening of the Heart: Essential Buddhist Sutras and Commentaries” by Thich Nhat Hanh and read both his translations and commentaries in preparation for discussions.  Alternatively, I have provided links below where you can find PDF versions of the required texts. October 16, 2016 Text: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breath (Anapanasati Sutta) Anatomy Focus: Anatomy of Movement & Bone November 6, 2016 Text: The Foundations of Mindfulness_ Satipatthana Sutta Anatomy Focus: Knees, Hips and Pelvis December 10, 2016 Text: …

Second Location

One of the most significant changes that came with parenthood was the demise of my ability to travel to a “second location”.  I had attended college in a neighborhood that was not safe (understatement) and have always been an urban dweller and I regularly attended public safety workshops where I learned important skills like yell “fire” instead of “help” since more people will respond to a potential threat to their own safety than taking the risk to assist someone else in trouble.  I also learned to be prepared to poke someone’s eye out.  Which, honestly, may be good advice, but I’m not sure what it would take to be inspired to act on it.  But, the advice that seemed both strongest in message and reason was to do whatever it took not to be taken to a “second location”.  Apparently, even if someone has a gun to your head, statistically, you have a better chance of surviving the assault if you run or try to get away than if you get into a car to …

I Am The Door

Here are two common scenarios for me: Scenario One: A Friend or Client is Stuck This happens to me a lot and I guess it is an “occupational hazard” of sorts, but people come to tell me their stories when they feel stuck.  Many of my clients and students have tried everything, gone to every doctor, had all the tests, done all the treatments and they still don’t have the results they desired or the well-being that they were hoping for. I have friends that tell me about their stuck feelings in jobs, work relationships, personal relationships and just how they feel in their lives at this moment.  In many cases, though not all, a path to freedom seems clear to me, the observer.  When I first started this work, I was so delighted when I saw such a clear path because I assumed that if I could communicate it, then my clients could folllow my vision and get free fast.  But, what I immediately realized is that the clear path has always been present …

Extroverted-Introverts Guide to Large Social Events

This past weekend, I went to my 20th college reunion.  My college is my “happy place” and I also love the city that it is in, Philadelphia.  Also, so many of the people that I met in college are some of the most intelligent, creative and genuine people I’ve ever known.  I love to see them and it’s great to be reminded of the magic that is being unique.  Truth be told, I’m not much into socializing with large groups, crowded bars or lots of noise, but I signed up for all the reunion events anyway.  I feel confident that I can protect my energy and since I know the city very well, I also had a personal backup plan for fun things I would do if the reunion events weren’t feeling right to me. That’s one of the great blessings of yoga in my life that I’ve learned to make choices based on my unique sensitivities that do not limit my participation.  I’ve always been sensitive and sometimes that makes me choose to stay …

Say What You Mean

There is a short essay by Brian Doyle in the March 2016 issue of The Sun literary magazine titled, “The Way We Do Not Say What We Mean When We Say What We Say” (page 23) that suggests that, “Perhaps languages invent themselves and then have to hunt for speakers.”  When I read this, it made me think of a poem by Hafiz: Your Beautiful Parched, Holy Mouth A poet is someone Who can pour Light into a spoon, Then raise it To nourish Your beautiful parched, holy mouth. (Translated by Daniel Ladinsky and found on page 59 of “I Heard God Laughing” 2006) Many of you who have studied with me know of my fascination with the Matrika, the vibration of truth that finds its home in the central energetic channel of the subtle body.  It is the vibration of that which is most true and each of us has a unique symphony, that the human ear can never hear, yet is playing within us since the moment of our conception.  This truth, one …

Pounding On An Open Door

“How long will you keep pounding on an open door, begging someone to answer?”  ~Rabia As soon as I read this quote, I knew it was a question I needed to deeply consider.  It was illuminating to read this because I immediately visualized myself pounding furiously on the open door of life hoping that someone would arrive to help me find my way through.  Yet, there is no need to pound on the door, to kick, scream, beg or demand because the door is already open.  You can walk through, just as you are, right now. According to the Bhagavad Gita, “There has never been a time when you and I have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to be.  Therefore, play the role you’re meant for right now.”  It’s so hard to accept this in the busy, fast paced life of self-improvement projects that we all live in right now.  My clients all present various anxieties and fears that they are, at the same time, doing too much …

Everything Changes

[I said to Suzuki Roshi,] “I could listen to you for a thousand years and still not get it.  Could you just please put it in a nutshell?  Can you reduce Buddhism to one phrase?”…He was not a man you could pin down, and he didn’t like to give his students something definite to cling to. He had often said not to have “some idea” of what Buddhism was.  But Suzuki did answer.  He looked at me and said, “Everything changes.” ~David Chadwick For the past 24-hours, here in Pittsburgh we have been bathed in the light of the sun through clear blue skies. I feel the sun in the fluids of my body and, all of a sudden, my dreams seem possible.  When you live in a place that offers shades of gray (and not in the exciting way) for most days of the year, the light of the sun brings profound shifts in conciousness.  This shift is welcomed because it is warm, light and inspiring.  As much as this change in season from …

Pure Brightness

Today, April 7, 2016 is the Festival of Pure Brightness (Qingming, or Tomb Sweeping Day) in China.  It is a three-day festival that is as much about honoring ancestors as it is a way for people to have time to go outside and enjoy the new greenery of spring.  There are spring outings and kite flying.  When I was a teacher in China, all of my elementary school students made their own kites and went out into the schoolyard to fly them.  Since I was in the far north of central China, there was nothing in bloom quite yet, but the worst of winter was over and the majestic willow trees graced the main street.  It is customary to hang willow branches on your door during the Festival of Pure Brightness.  This has roots in the traditions of Buddhism because Guanyin is pictured sometimes with a vase of water and willow branches in it and this is meant to scare away demons and ghosts. As we move into seasons of light, it can be beneficial …

A Spring Meditation to Balance the Liver

Spring The water murmurs In the old stone well, And, a rippling mirror, Gives back the clear blue sky. The river roars, Swollen with the late rains of spring. On the cool, jade-green grass The golden sunshine Splashes. Sometimes, at early dawn, I climb Even as far as Lien Shan Temple. In the spring I plow the thirsty field, That it may drink new life. I eat a little, I work a little, Each day my hair grows thinner, And, it seems, I lean ever a bit more heavily On my old thornwood cane. ~Liu Tzu-Hui, Sung Dynasty, AD 960-1278 [This translation from Beinfield and Korngold, page 160] With the coming of spring, here is a gentle yoga-based exercise to balance the liver energy in the body. The energy of the liver (or, “Liver Meridian”) starts at the inside base of the big toe and runs up the inside of the leg, goes through the reproductive organs and flows under the front of the ribs into the liver where it circulates upwards through the lungs.  …

Lavender Soothes Lions and Lambs

Lavender Essential Oil Whether your March has come in like a lion or a lamb, I suggest some lavender to ease the transition to spring.  Lavender holds the energy of summer sun, but the blue color is cooling and creates a sense of equanimity.  Click on the image to the left for information on how to buy a bottle of essential oil with a 24% discount. Lavender for Eating Thanks to Elaine’s Lavender Page for the delicious lavender cookies recipe:  RECIPE FOR LAVENDER COOKIES. Ingredients 2/3 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup sugar 1 egg, beaten 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour Directions Preheat oven to 350 deg. Grease two baking sheets. Cream the butter and the sugar together, then stir in the beaten egg. Mix in flowers and the flour. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking sheets. Bake about 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are golden. Makes about 30 cookies. If you are looking for culinary quality dried lavender flowers, I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs.  I order online and have been really …

Insight Sessions

An insight session supports you in setting aside time in your life to make important decisions and create clarity around your priorities.  During insight sessions, we will address a singular concern, decision you are trying to make, problematic relationship, or goal and using relaxation, visualization, somatic feedback and energy work.  For clients who are interested in or open to divine insight through oracle card readings, Sharon will also use oracle cards to help clients clarify issues and priorities in their lives.  These cards are not used to “predict the future”, but in many cases, the images, words, and themes spark memories and invoke a heart-centered response to the challenge at hand.  Sharon also uses aromatherapy with pure essential oils for clients who are open to this type of healing work.  Obviously, aromatherapy is not possible for distance sessions, but Sharon will make a recommendation for clients about an essential oil or flower essence that might be helpful in their decision making. These are 45-minute sessions for $60 each.    These sessions can be held using SKYPE, FaceTime or at …

Sattvic Diet: Eating for Equilibrium and Essence

For the purposes of Make Room, I would like to suggest that you only think about adding things to your diet.  Although I’m sure that this means different things to different people, the reality is that there is only so much food you can fit into the human body in any given day and so, my thinking on this is that you can create a big shift by just adding delicious whole foods.  If you just really enjoyed a lovely miso soup and a grilled mushroom sandwhich, chances are, when you pass Pizza Hut, you won’t give stopping by all that much thought.  You might consider it, but you will be full.  So, when you get the new newsletter, check out the list of foods suggested and see about adding something that sounds good.  If nothing seems familiar, go on an adventure and try something new.  If there is something you love, go ahead and eat more of that. A sattvic diet has the following qualities: Highest quality, freshness and close-ness to life-force (recently picked, …

Power Feng Shui

You’ve certainly heard of power yoga….right?  Well, this nine-day challenge is power feng shui! I would like to invite you to an extreme feng shui challenge: For nine-days, on each day, throw out/donate/sell 27-objects. Yes, I’m serious.  And, honestly, it isn’t going to be THAT difficult.  When you take the challenge, you start to see the objects around you in a whole different light.  You start to think, “Do I really like that?  If not, I’ll use that as one of my 27-objects today!”.  You start to remember drawers filled with broken pencil erasers that you happily dump.  You have thousands of objects around you at any given time and you can live without at least 243 of them: decks of cards without all the cards, that note your college girlfriend sent you when you were living in Istanbul….20-years ago, photographs of relatives (are they relatives?) you can’t name, pens that don’t work, all the supplies you need to make a godzilla hook rug.  Trust me. You can do this! What happens at the end …

Make Room

In October of this year, we discovered that my nine-year old son Nick has significant issues with impacted teeth and a lack of space that is going to require two-phases of comprehensive orthodontic care and surgeries.  The first phase of orthodontic care, the one where we will make space, costs almost $6,000 and his health insurance does not cover any part of this.  Many of you know that my little family has already been through a difficult number of years.  My children and I have moved over four-times in two-years and, in January of 2015, my son was in a very bad sledding accident and ended up in a wheelchair for almost five months.  We lost our apartment and I wasn’t able to work for a number of months while I carried him everywhere and took him for medical appointments and helped him heal. Nick’s orthodontic care is necessary to save him from a childhood of pain and to make every effort possible to save his adult teeth.  This is not simply a cosmetic need. …

What is a Health Coach Session?

Recently, my sister suggested to me that I start a website called “NotaDoctor.com” and offer intuitive medical counseling to clients.  You see, I’m not a doctor.  I’m not a doctor by any definition.  But, after 20-years of facilitating yoga and movement therapies, studying anatomy and reading as much as I can about the relationship between mind and body combined with a natural ability to “see” my clients as whole and well regardless of their current health and wellness concerns, I have a great deal to offer my students and clients. These sessions are especially helpful for adults who have been told by their therapist or doctor that meditation, mindfulness practices or yoga would be helpful to them in their healing or wellness, but they don’t know where to begin.  I can work with you on sequences of breathing, visualization, relaxation, meditation and/or gentle movements that help you make these healing practices a part of your daily life.  There are many different kinds of meditation and I can help you decide what works best for your …

Imperfect Vessels

I’m always reading.  Whenever I come across common themes in my reading, I try to make note of it and then think about what that theme means to me in my life, my practice and my work.  Two-weeks ago, in everything I was reading, the word or theme of “imagination” kept popping up.  This week, in two completely different books, the Buddhist teaching of the imperfect vessels revealed itself to me.  This teaching provides a way for us to study ourselves and then develop practices that support our current state of mind. The first type of imperfect vessel is an upside down vessel.  It’s impossible to fill a vase with beautiful flowers if the vase is upside down.  In this type of vessel, the opening is completely closed off.  In this “closed mind” there is no role for meditation or yoga practice.  It is likely that all of us experience times when our minds are the upside down vessel.  It is just as likely that we can think of someone that we know or have …

Practice Notes: Rainbow Body

Each week, I teach a mindful yoga class on Tuesday nights at Mookshi Wellness Center.  Recently, I have adapted a new preparation technique for teaching my classes and find the foundation theme for my class through daily prayer and meditation.  I have always been guided to teach from the wisdom of my practice as I was encouraged to do so by my compassionate and insightful teacher and mentor, Jill Satterfield.  But, for the past two-months I have been randomly choosing a sutra from Lorin Roche’s beautiful translation and commentary of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, The Radiance Sutras, and allowing the message of that particular sutra guide my choice of breathing, asana and visualization practices. This past spring I took a truly amazing distance learning course with Janet Conner called “Soul Vows” (also the title of her newest book, which is phenomenal) and was able to do so through a generous full scholarship that she offered to me.  The truth is that I had a hard time with the course.  I still haven’t come up with my soul …

A Precious Human Life

Everyday, think as you wake up, Today I am fortunate to have woken up.  I am alive, I have a precious human life.  I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all of my energies to develop myself, To expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment For the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others. I am not going to be angry, or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can. ~HH The XIVth Dalai Lama