Meet Sam!

I met Sam at a kundalini yoga class a number of months back. I was instantly drawn to her effervescent and energetic spirit! Samantha is a kundalini instructor, body talk practitioner, a business matrix magician, and co-owner of a super cool studio space in Vancouver, Washington called Enlightened Brilliance Studios. The space offers yoga, workshops, kirtan, astrology, dance, mind-body wellness services, cosmic inspiration and more! 

Samantha and I will be leading a 10  Day Winter Cleanse together at Enlightened Brilliance Studios, kicking off on Saturday February 13th. We will couple the nourishing, curious and cozy winter cleanse with kundalini kriyas designed to bring in the light and warm up your bod!  

I asked Sam some of my favorite q's about cozying up to winter, nourishment and her personal philosophies on food, health, wellness and everything else! Enjoy getting to know Sam! 


WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

As soon as I wake up I make a conscious decision to embrace being joyful. What works for me is asking the question: "what sorts of awesome, amazing, magical things will I do today?” I like to leave things open and ask "How will my life take shape?” This is a practice.

I know that I worry easily, especially if I try to plan and strategize too much. So I try to practice going with what the day brings instead of worrying so much about achieving my plan. I find that this allows me to cultivate presence and embrace surprise.

I also like to listen to fun music. I drink almond milk + wheat grass. I visualize my shower as rainbow light. Small daily things that I do that I think of as little meditations.

WHAT MAKES WINTER SPECIAL?

Winter is a time of contraction. It creates more coziness, more togetherness. People tend to come together more in winter.  Winter is more contracted and more internal—this inward focus  helps you to see your internal thoughts, and notice your dreams. We spend more time indoors and we spend more time tending to our inner worlds. 

I also think winter is a fantastic time for incubation and ideas and inquiry. Winter is a good time for restructuring, redoing, looking at your life, looking at your business—and asking--what do I want? What will I put energy towards?

HOW DO YOU NOURISH YOURSELF IN THE WINTERTIME? WHAT DO YOU DO TO GENERATE LIGHT FOR YOURSELF IN THE DARKNESS?

I love baths. Salt baths with essential oils. I like to bring my journal into bathtub and listen to fun music. When I am feeling low I write. Writing helps me to get the message that is causing my upset. If I can get the message I can let the rest dissolve. Cry it out. Cuddle myself and give myself space….

WHAT ARE YOU READING? WHAT’S AN IMPORTANT/LIFE-CHANGING BOOK FOR YOU?

The Secret Language of Your Body by Inna Segal. This is a book that I have turned to again, again! I actively use this book to change my feelings in the present moment. So in that way, I see It as more of a transformational tool.

I’m also enjoying the book  Outrageous Openness, Letting the Divine Take the Lead by Tosha Silver. This book has been fun to read as I participate in the form that Enlightened Brilliance Studios is going to take!

WHAT MAKES A GOOD TEACHER?

Someone that is compassionate -- so that they can feel what their students are feeling. Someone who has empathy — and is actively curious about where their students are coming from. From this place they can really begin to listen. Listening is huge because it can lead to  what really needs to be addressed.

A good teacher can tap into the information that the student really needs, and can present it so that the student can receive  the message themselves. Almost to the point that the student thinks that they figured it out themselves. This sort of deep knowing can be really transformational--it's amazing to see people own their knowledge!

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BRAVE?

To acknowledge that there is fear and pressure as part of growth—and to accept it -- to decide that it is ok. Choosing to be clear and present in the moment instead of giving in to fear, pressure and distraction. Continually moving forward and taking action.

I also think that it is important to believe in yourself/your vision/your cause so much, that your inner current is stronger than the energy that pops up to get in your way.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST CURIOUS ABOUT FOR 2016?

How my stewardship of Enlightened Brilliance Studios will unfold. We took over the space on 11/11/2015, and right now it is all new and open and exciting! I’m very curious about what it will settle into.

Personally I am curious about how my food paradigm will change. How will my relationships change? How will I change? What will my life look like once everything is how I would  L O V E  it to be -- infused with joy, excitement and fun? Rather than operating from a place of obligation or fear of loss. 

I WANT GET DREAMY DURING THE WINTER CLEANSE...WHAT IS A RECENT DREAM OF YOURS?

Well…how about a favorite dream?

I am with a group of people and we are climbing a number of stairs into the sky. The stairs are made of real gold and they are quite soft, so when we step down it effected the step, left a little indent. It was delicate and precious. Once we got to the top, a bunch of gods and goddesses are there, and they are celebrating and dancing and are beautiful.  And then a buddha begins rising up behind it all -- just like the sun. Everything about it felt so real!

WITH BREVITY…WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY IN LIFE?

Everything is food: the people you are with, the place that you are in, the music you listen to. Everything is food and it is all feeding your soul. Prioritize feeding yourself that which will nourish and lift you up.  Be mindful to protect yourself and be gentle with yourself.

Meet Sweets!

I sat down with Sweethome to talk routines, winter, coziness and dreams -- to get us all pumped for the upcoming Winter Cleanse.  

I started practicing yoga with Sweethome at North Portland Yoga in the fall of 2014. I had just moved back to the Pacific Northwest, was building a tiny house, was unsure of what would come next—and I deeply craved a spiritual practice and a space for me to investigate this new time and this new place. A dear friend brought me to a class with Sweethome and I was hooked. Sweethome offers a strong yoga practice, but what I love most is the space that she creates for inquiry and connection. Connection to ourselves, to “that which knows us better than ourselves”. Connection to each other, through the blending of our voices in chant and the honest (and rare)  conversations that follow. And connection to place-in the Pacific Northwest, on this planet, in this universe. She’s the real deal. 

We will be leading a Winter Cleanse together that will blend 10 days of Ayurvedic cleansing practices and support with 10 cozy mornings practicing yoga and meditation with Sweethome. It's all kicking off January 16th at North Portland Yoga -- Register Here! 

Until then, get to know Sweethome a bit better!


 

WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

I am up early, 4-6 am. I light the candles on my altar. I make a cup of coffee. I do some writing. I practice mantra and the lovingkindness meditation. Now I am also pulling tarot cards. It is always changing. Sometimes just meditation, sometimes gentle movement. 

And then I move into my day. I take care of my animals. I teach yoga throughout the day.I am cultivating a discipline of writing. I am always thinking about how I am going to make connections throughout the day. Sometimes that is through collaboration. I have video, music, and service projects that I am involved with at this time, but sometimes that collaboration is through simply participating in the world. I just love the interactions that I have with strangers. 

Sometimes I forget to eat. Sometimes I make dinner and sometimes I don’t. Though I get great satisfaction when I supply my girls with a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. And I like days where i make a big pot of food for my household. I have a minimalistic life, and I like it that way. Sometimes I don’t have a good handle on being organized and efficient, but in general I do feel prepared for what is to come. Sometimes I get a lot done in a day and sometimes it feels like simply living.

I feel fortunate in the big picture—even when I am fumbling.

 

WHAT MAKES WINTER SPECIAL?

One of my favorite things about Portland in the winter is that one week when it snows, and the city shuts down. In those moments, you have nowhere you have to be. No where to go.  You are always in the right place because that is where you are.

The winter sort of stops things.

I also like the sky in winter, the light of winter, there is a softness to the light.  The softness of the rain. Winter is a soft time of year, an internal nesting time.

HOW DO YOU NOURISH YOURSELF IN THE WINTERTIME? HOW DO YOU GENERATE LIGHT WHEN FEELING THE DARKNESS?

I love to give and giving is a part of this whole season. I love to give the things that I make  with my hands: bead work, knitting, in the summer it is the fruits of my gardening.

I also like “New Years” and the invitation to set intentions, to investigate the unknowns of what is to come.  In winter, I take care of my inside world, the inner psyche—and our surroundings are an expression of that. During winter I take care of the inside of my house—the inside of myself. I clean up. I prepare. 

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? 

Right now I am reading a tarot book and the Sun Magazine. I have also been listening to the On Being podcast, I recently enjoyed an  interview with the poet Marie Howe --- It made me want to be a student of hers. 

WHAT MAKES A GOOD TEACHER?

Someone who can begin with a subject and talk you into a sweeping expanse touching upon many other things, you forget where it all began, but then they bring you back and it all connects . A good teacher reminds us that everything is connected when we don’t see it. We might get lost but a good teacher brings it all back together. I think in order to do that, a teacher needs to be loose enough to not be preoccupied by their own self involvement…they don’t have to prove their point or be too rigid, because what they actually say is not as important as what is speaking in everybody else.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BRAVE?

Allowing yourself to be scared….if you are not willing to be scared you will never be in a situation where you need to be brave. 

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR PLAY?

I experience play when I am teaching. I am in love with the world when I am teaching. When I am biking, that is a sort of play. I had a great day the other morning because every interaction with strangers was funny and witty and we felt connected. 

FAVORITE MANTRA? 

I don’t have a favorite—they swim in and out as needed.

I am teaching a class at SunGate studios “Mantra for Life” and with it I want to establish a practice of mantra that supports health wellness, so that is where my focus is at now.

I WANT TO GET DREAMY DURING THE WINTER CLEANSE...WHAT IS A RECENT DREAM OF YOURS?

I see an old friend. I am happy to see him. I walk up and we hug but my left arm is tucked up to my front side like someone with a broken arm in a cast, yet my arm was not broken. We held each other close, but my arm was there, separating us. I hold people close, yet with distance. I know this about myself.

THE CLEANSE WILL ASK US TO GET CURIOUS ABOUT HOW 2016 WILL UNFOLD... WHAT ARE YOU MOST CURIOUS ABOUT FOR THE NEW YEAR?

Hmmmmm…. I’m curious about how my life will shift with one of my daughters leaving for college. She and I have a close relationship and have since she was born.  

I am also curious about where my business will take me—my work is a big part of my life and my lifestyle. I am curious about how my work can be more impactful to the world. 


Thank you Sweethome! Find more info about Sweethome's classes, events and more at www.teacupyoga.com

And if you are interested in participating in the Winter Cleanse with Sweethome, sign up! It's going to be a juicy one!

My Most Favorite Poem

I am a massive Wendell Berry fan. I find that he writes so piercingly about our relationship to place : to earth : to food : to time to each other : to nourishment--found in and out of the belly. The ecosystem he crafts is what I see when I dream, and wish for when I can't quite remember the vision.

Every time I need a bit of tethering I turn to a Wendell Berry poem, or a line or two from an essay or novel. This poem is my favorite. I can't help but put my head in my hands after reading. It plucks every heart string.

There is so much happening in the world that could crush a person. There is so much happening in the world that can make a soul shine so bright it blinds. These things are happening at the same time. How to cope?

For me it is remembering that there is abundant beauty and grace, and it is as minuscule as it is enormous, depending on where you stand. I can choose how much I breathe in, and how much I breath out. And I won't be here forever, but I can make choices that will vibrate for 100's of years.

And so can you.

Please read this poem.

Please plant a tree.

Please listen to your heart and find a bit of grace or gratitude for each day. Even if it is just for the one deep long breath, you take right --- now.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front - Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay. Want more of everything ready-made. Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die. And you will have a window in your head. Not even your future will be a mystery any more. Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer. When they want you to buy something they will call you. When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace the flag. Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands. Give your approval to all you cannot understand. Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest. Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years. Listen to carrion – put your ear close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come. Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. So long as women do not go cheap for power, please women more than men. Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields. Lie down in the shade. Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts. As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”from The Country of Marriage, copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry