Aug 192013

Being a parent for the first time can be a steep learning curve. We don’t quite know how to “do it right,” we lack confidence, we don’t know what our little one’s messages mean, certainly not at the beginning. Being a sort of new parent to my mother is kind of like that. I am learning things like, she has forgotten how to eat a taco or a tostada, or that I must remind her to wipe and flush the toilet and wash her hands after using the restroom. Sometimes I fall short in taking care of her well because I simply don’t know how to.

This week, on the way back from her medical visit, I stopped by an outdoor mall to drop off something for repair. In the Temecula Valley this time of year, temperatures run in the very high 90s. My mother, who uses a walker, was overheated quite quickly. I sat her down outside the mall under the direct sun in the blistering heat while I jogged the 200+ yards to the car anxious for my mother’s discomfort and feeling badly that I had put her in such a position. As I was driving the car back, a UPS driver jumped out of his truck and ran over to where my mother was seated in her walker, then handed her an ice-cold bottle of water which he had opened for her, then quickly ran back to his truck. I pulled up to my mother and got out of the car as he was jumping back in his truck. One hand on my heart, another in a wave, I gave him my silent gratitude. He smiled warmly as he was putting his truck in gear and quickly was off.

I suspect I will remember that small act of kindness forever. He did not judge my ineptitude. He was clearly rushed, but not too rushed to offer a kindness, to care for an elder, to step up where I had fallen short. In spite of being rushed, he noticed, and then he acted. And that, my dear friends, is the true essence of the spiritual warrior.

Having walked a variety of spiritual paths, I have seen so many seekers who confuse the practice for the essence. That is, to orient towards practices like meditation or yoga as if they are the Something Bigger, when they are only practices to help us open and experience the Something Bigger. The purpose of meditation isn’t to be a great meditator, to sit for hours at a time without moving, it is to notice – To be mindful in our daily lives when we are in relationship to others and to our environment, then, to take that noticing and become mindfully engaged, to take action. To do what that UPS man did, because, as Jewel sang so sweetly, “in the end, only kindness matters.”

May we be mindful in our daily interactions. May we be of service to others in need, even in the small ways. May we remember that, when it comes to kindness, there is no small act.

clip no small act of kindness

Sabrina Santa Clara ~ Authentic Alchemy x3
Spiritual Counseling ~ Temecula, CA

Jun 042013

I have been practicing yoga for about 20 years, some years with more consistency than others. And I have been a yoga teacher for over ten years, again, some years teaching more than others. The way I practice at 48 is very different from how I practiced at 28. At 28, my yoga practice was rooted in a push to be more – be better, learn how to do that next difficult pose, get twistier, be more spiritual and grounded, etc.  So this very Western focus on attaining was interweaved throughout my practice, though I would have denied it at the time. I did not realize then that the push to be more and to be better was just the flip side of an ‘I’m not enough just as I am’ belief system.

This is the paradox of yoga, and spiritual practice in general: When we push to become more – more grounded, more enlightened, a better yogini – we lose the essential something that opens us up to our Bigger Self and add a kind of tightness and drivenness which is contrary to the yielding and surrender necessary in spiritual practice. One of my favorite approaches to yoga is Anusara. In Anusara yoga, the first of the five universal principles of alignment is to open to grace, which is the yield and the surrender that is required to open to the Something Bigger. This is the primary purpose of all yoga practice, to open our awareness to our connection to the Something Bigger which both resides within us and is us, of which we are and are a part of.

So for those of us who practice yoga, be it on or off the mat, my metta (loving-kindness blessing/hope) is:

May we open to grace. May we relinquish the mistaken belief that we are not enough as we are right in this moment. May we recognize the divinity in our own being and within all living beings.

Sabrina Santa Clara / Authentic Alchemy x3

clip yoga self acceptance