For most of my life, I've been guided by a fierce protector: Perfectionism. "If I just get it right, anything and everything, then I am ok... safe from harm". It worked pretty well at school. It worked pretty well at home too. It even seemed to work well with my childhood friends. As long as I got it all right, then everything was fine. No boat was rocked. No color went outside the lines. No one's feathers were ruffled.
Protectors start as a clever response to a tight situation. When they help us out a couple times, they develop into automated patterns that later often limit us. Since perfectionism served me so well as a kid, it stuck around well into adulthood.
I caught glimpses of how it held me back over the years, like when I would be introduced to a new and exciting activity. Anything new meant potentially getting something wrong, so I was inclined to walk away, find a creative exit, add it to my to do list and never ever do it. There was no room for mistakes. No room for failure. No room for not getting it right away. That spelled disaster... danger... not safe.
Somewhere in there was a hurt little girl who kept trying to put order, a sense of rightness, into her chaotic, frightening, and overwhelming world.
When we become aware of our protectors, we are also able to dialog with them. They can tell us why they show up, what role they play, and what they need. In all my years of working with my own and others' protectors, I have yet to encounter one who did not eventually confess to being utterly exhausted and in desperate need of a new way of coping.
Perfectionist-Me, my most revered Protector, was far beyond tired.
Protectors form armoring that hardens our muscles, tightens our connective tissue, congests our lungs and sinuses, and rigidifies our thinking. Metal, the material of which armors are made and the element associated with the autumn season in Chinese medicine, has taught me a great deal about working with protective patterns.
In autumn we get to witness the death of the growing season, the end of a cycle. We also get to witness the subtle beginning of a new cycle, which often starts with observing the spacious absence of what once was. As witnesses to the ebb and flow of life, we find authentic safety, one that is truly aligned with who we are now and what we need now. Not yesterday. Not when we were two or three. But right now.
Whenever "I gotta be right" arises in me, I consciously shift my attention to "I gotta be right now."
I tell Perfectionist-Me that I see her, that I see how hard she's working to protect me, and that I also see the scared little girl behind the shield. With the little girl's hand in mind, we take time to breathe, time to study the present moment, time to see what is truly needed right now and how to go about receiving it. Usually, within a few minutes, I can feel my own Presence again, and experience myself as the okayness in which ok and not-ok arise and dissolve.
If you are working to manage limiting protective patterns like perfectionism, I encourage you to schedule an acupressure session with me. Together we can find the way to understand and honor the protector, release the physical holding, and make room for your authentic self to shine bright like the gem that you are. New to acupressure? Enjoy 10% off your first session (expires Dec 1; discount applied at in-person check out).
Want to learn more about the metal element? Check out these workshops:
YOGA NIDRA & ACUPRESSURE FOR AUTUMN EASE
SUNDAY, NOV 17, 2:00-3:30PM
BLUE HERON WELLNESS
10723-B COLUMBIA PIKE, SILVER SPRING, MD
Sign up now @ shiraozsinai.com/autumn-ease.
AUTUMN WORKSHOP: YOGA NIDRA FOR CONNECTING WITH ANIMAL WIT
SATURDAY, NOV 23, 2:00 - 4:00PM
SPECTRUM CENTER FOR NATURAL MEDICINE
8555 16TH STREET, SUITE #402, SILVER SPRING, MD
Sign up now @ shiraozsinai.com/autumn-vision-quest.
Plus, enjoy the FREE YOGA NIDRA MEDITATION in the post below!
May we all honor our Protectors and, with their help, reach the shielded parts of ourselves that desperately long for our Presence,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Over the last few years, I've developed a tradition of sharing some special treat with you in the month of November as a way of saying "thank you."
This November is no different.
Please receive my deepest gratitude for YOU! For taking part in classes, workshops, retreats, and private acupressure sessions; for serving as my teachers; for your thoughts, questions, suggestions, and comments; for your continued support and love; and most importantly--for sharing with me your precious presence.
You have filled my life with a vital richness that inspires me to do what I love most. For this, I am beyond grateful. Please enjoy a FREE iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation on gratitude, available below throughout the month of November. (Learn more about Yoga® Nidra HERE).
Looking for more holiday ease? Acupressure sessions continue regularly throughout the month with sessions available the Wednesday before as well as the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. Learn more and schedule your session @ shiraozsinai.com/acupressure. Also, check out two special autumn workshops on Nov 17 and Nov 23! More @ shiraozsinai.com/retreatsworkshops.
May feelings of gratitude remind you of the precious gift that you are,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
The practice is 40 minutes long and starts right away. I invite you to settle into a comfortable position (sitting up or lying down), set an alarm clock if you need to be somewhere afterwards, rest back and click "play". To transition once the practice is over, invite gentle movements into your body, and give yourself 5-10 minutes to adjust.
The hands above are my hands. They're holding symbols of autumn: a leaf for shedding what no longer serves us; a Blue Jay feather for the animal wit that guides us in closer to ourselves; and a crystal for the treasured gem that we discover at our core as all other untruths fall away.
Witnessing letting go, receiving inspiration, and appreciating our preciousness are the gifts of the autumn season and what lies at the heart of the Chinese medicine metal element. This is the potent energy that's becoming amplified now.
The whole new in-person and live online line-up of classes/workshops has been carefully designed to support us in bringing both the gifts of autumn and the gift of our Presence into greater awareness. Let's get inspired together and realize, with increasing confidence and greater clarity, the precious gems that we are!
Between these new offerings, the ongoing Monday evening Yoga Nidra class, and individual acupressure sessions, there are so many opportunities for us to share in Presence and align with autumn for optimal health of body, mind, and spirit! I hope to see you soon.
May the gifts of autumn inspire you to be who you are,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
P.S. Many thanks to Bruna Photography for the photo at the top! I thoroughly enjoyed working with Bruna and love the set of photos from our shoot. Check her out @ facebook.com/brunagenovesephotography.
Balance isn't a fixed place, point, or pose that you can achieve, get to, or accomplish.
Balance is a dance.
We come near. We move away. We come near again.
Today, as the length of day and the length of night whirl towards a fleeting moment in equilibrium, I meditate on the dance that is balance.
🍁HAPPY AUTUMN EQUINOX, EVERYBODY!!!🍃
Video taken during my recent trip to Israel. This little darling had so much wisdom to impart. May it inspire you in your dance of balance.
This Sunday marks the autumn equinox, a moment in which the length of day is equal to the length of night. This is an auspicious time to meditate on balance in our lives, and particularly the balance between our Infinite Spirit and Finite Body.
How do we nourish our spirit while also taking good care of our bodies, homes, and families? How do we find time to meditate, journal, and stretch while also tending to the laundry, groceries, and cleaning? How do we make choices based on our gut wisdom while also receiving the support of the clear-thinking mind?
In Chinese medicine, the autumn season relates to those precious gems hidden right below the surface of our waking consciousness. Intuitive instincts, inner knowing, and animal wit--these are the tools we all have that guide us in flowing with life's currents while also staying anchored into our inner peace.
If you've got a few minutes on your own this Sunday (or some time in the next few days), light a candle, connect with your body, connect with your spirit, and set an intention as to how you wish to experience autumn.
And if you're free Sunday evening, join me for a group meditation on autumn, a setting of intentions, and a practical yet magical and playful game of oracle cards to draw on the wisdom within!
MEDITATIVE CARD NIGHT: A PLAYFUL AUTUMN WORKSHOP
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 (AUTUMN EQUINOX!)
5:00PM - 7:00PM
@ THE SPECTRUM CENTER FOR NATURAL MEDICINE
8555 16TH ST., SUTE #402, SILVER SPRING, MD 20910
Register @ shiraozsinai.com/autumn-meditative-card-night.
May you always know that which is in balance always--your Presence,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
P.S. For a reflection on the coming autumn and a couple tips for transitioning with greater ease, check out my last email/blog post, Autumn at the Door.
There's a shift in the air. A crispiness in the mornings and evenings. An increased crunch of leaves underfoot. And a subtle scent of nostalgia, melancholy, and change.
The tides of emotion, beckoned by Friday's Harvest Moon, are turning our attention inwards. We may fight against it. We may stomp our feet and drag our heels. But nature doesn't stop. It continues forward with its cycle, just as it has for hundreds of years. So what do we do?
Herein lies an invitation to surrender to what is, connect with spirit, your spirit, and dive into your precious and luminous inner world. Take time to gaze at the beauty of the changing landscape. Take intentionally deep breaths to punctuate your day. Take notice of what you feel and meet it gently, with compassion and love, knowing that this too is a natural part of the changing rhythms of nature.
As we make the turn towards autumn and prepare for the coming winter, we have a chance to meditate on that which never changes--our Presence. Please join me for the resumed Monday Evening Yoga Nidra class--via call, online, or in-person--where we directly contemplate our peacefully attentive, spontaneously welcoming, and instinctively loving Presence with all of life. Let's give up trying so hard and simply rest into it!
For other opportunities to find ease with autumn and prepare for the winter ahead, try a private acupressure session with me and/or check out a full menu of autumn workshops and classes!
May you deeply know your unchanging Presence amidst all the changes in life,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
P.S. For more support on being with what is during this time of transition back to school, work, and autumn, check out my last blog post, There's No Going Back.
Hello dear ones,
I am back from a marvelous, nourishing, challenging, and healing visit with my family in Israel. And boy, do I have a lot to reflect on! For now, however, I wish to address this small little word "back" and the attitude that subconsciously gets attached to it. (I promise I'll share my reflections in the weeks to come).
A quick Google search will reveal what most of us already know: one of the definitions of the word "back" is "expressing a return to an earlier or normal condition." We say, "Back to School," "I'm getting back into the swing of things," and "I've just come back from my trip." While it's clear that we are referring to a return, is it actually a return to an earlier condition?
When your child goes back to school, s/he might be returning to the same building as the previous year, a similar schedule maybe, and perhaps a familiar group of peers. But is that really a return to an earlier condition? Your child is by no means the same as s/he was a year ago. Your child isn't even the same as yesterday! S/he has had a whole year of experiences, a whole summer, a whole day of experiences, and each one of these experiences signifies change.
Most of us subconsciously approach each day with an attitude of "return to an earlier or normal condition." But, there is actually no going back. It doesn't exist. Why? Because there is only now. Every single moment is brand new, natural, and fresh with possibilities. Like this moment right now, it has never been lived before, never been experienced, never been felt. So, what's happening now?
As we find ourselves in the season of "Back to School," we may notice our minds preparing for going back to the same routines, people, and places. It is up to us to notice what our minds are doing, and with the same curiosity and wonder also notice every single nuance of what is actually new, unexplored, and original in the here and now.
Just as we may choose to use the word "back" exactly as we please, we can also consciously choose to meet every moment, including this one, just as it is--an unfolding experience in a wide open field of Presence.
May you know the deepest comfort by resting into the now,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Please leave your comments and reflections below. Thank you!
We gathered for the Befriending Yourself: Spring Meditation Retreat in Berkeley Springs, WV last weekend like students of spring in the nature that we are as well as nature all around us. We turned to the element of wood, our revered teacher for the season, and asked: "What can we learn from you about growing into who we are?"
As we brought attention to our own experience, we found that one of the signature sensations of spring is discomfort. While we practiced being with it and using acupressure as well as mindful tools to support ourselves, I couldn't help but inquire why... why does it feel like so much discomfort is involved with growth?
I took this question out with me to an early morning meditation on the bench in the picture above, just steps away from our cabin. I looked at the trees all around me and wondered if they feel pain. When the growing gets tough, what do the trees do?
They seemed to whisper in response. In the hush of the morning, in the soft drip-drop of rain, in the rising sing-song of birds, the trees seemed to say: we just keep on growing. Well, I thought, so do we! As I sat there listening, I felt how the energy to grow is an impulse. It's innate. We are a constantly evolving organism. Our cells regenerate continuously. Our brains build new pathways all the time. Our bodies are renewed with every breath. We are intelligently designed for growth!
So much of what feels uncomfortable to us humans is not the growing itself but the departure from the familiar. Familiar feels comfortable. Familiar feels well-known. All this newness of growing feels risky. We haven't tried it before. We don't know if we'll succeed. We don't know what supports we might need, what new coping mechanisms, who we might want by our side. We don't know yet because it's all brand new. And unfamiliar.
This is so tough for us because our minds translate familiar as safe. You could be working an awful job for 5 years, and it will feel safer than looking for a new one where you might thrive and blossom. Why? Because the awful job is what you know; it's familiar. It doesn't matter that the boss doesn't appreciate you. It doesn't matter that all your talent is going to waste. It doesn't matter that the pay is miserable and the commute horrific. It feels safer than what you don't know. This is primal brain logic.
So when the growing gets tough, what do those of us who feel tough and those of us who feel not-so-tough do? Like the trees said, we just keep on growing. We consciously remind ourselves that this feels uncomfortable because it's new and we've never done this before. We remember that uncomfortable does not mean wrong or unsafe. We listen carefully to the innate pulsation of growth within ourselves and let it guide us. Then we turn to discomfort compassionately and say, "It's ok sweetheart, I know you're scared. I see you, and I am right here with you."
We hold ourselves by the hand and preferably find someone or something else who would too, and... we grow. Yes, just like that. Just like the trees supported by the earth and sun and rain. Discomfort or not, we just grow.
May spring support us to shed what we are not and gently grow into who we are,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Below are a few of my favorite pictures from the retreat, but there are many more! Check out the full album @ https://www.facebook.com/shira.ozsinai/media_set?set=a.1492328310904096&type=3.
Please join me for the next retreat, Befriending Yourself: Autumn Meditation Retreat, on Oct 25-27, 2019. Fitting for the fall season, we spend the weekend honoring what no longer serves us, bidding it farewell, and holding dear and near the spirit of life and our unique treasures. Prepare for a deeply illuminating experience!
Register now to reserve your spot @ shiraozsinai.com/autumn-retreat.
In the last few weeks I've been watching a new growth shoot in my indoor ZZ Plant. It's been reminding me of what a delicate dance of contraction and expansion growing is. This lesson is just in time for transitioning from winter to spring!
Out of the moist soil climbs a bright green, tightly wound stalk. It stands in stark contrast to the dark, thick green of the mature leaves around it. Slowly, over the course of many days, it unfurls one tender leaf after another. While one leaf opens, the rest remain softly bound together until just the right time.
I enjoy gently touching the new leaves. They're so soft. Soft and delicate. They remind me of how it's ok to stay curled up inside and that I too will know the right time to open. They remind me that when it is time to open, I can do so slowly. And, they remind me that as I open, expand, and grow, I will feel tender, soft, and delicate. This is the wisdom of early spring.
Are you experiencing early spring rising in you? Are you feeling like some days you want to stay curled up in bed? And other days you want to take on the whole world? Are you starting to envision what the next few months will be like for you? Perhaps venturing towards summer plans? Most importantly, is there some tender part of you that's beginning to emerge, take shape, and expand?
The Spring Equinox on March 20th marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. So how about an evening of magic, play, and inspiration using oracle cards to call on the wisdom within? This is your invitation to a not-your-ordinary card night! Come celebrate the new season!!!
Wednesday, March 20, 2019, 6:30 - 8:30pm
@ The Spectrum Center for Natural Medicine
8555 16th Street, Suite #402, Silver Spring, MD 20910
REGISTER @ shiraozsinai.com/spring-meditative-card-night.
Light refreshments included. No previous experience necessary.
May the rising spring energy support a new part of you into blossoming,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
If you have a heart that beats and you're over the age of two, you've likely had the thought "I am not good enough" at least once in your life. Most of us are visited quite often by this thought, or one of her sisters: "I don't know enough," "There's not enough time," "I don't fit in," and "There's something wrong with me."
When we believe these thoughts to be true, when we believe that we are somehow less than, flawed, or damaged, we forget all about the wholeness that we are. It feels far away and frankly unbelievable. In our minds, it may sound something like, "Me? I am whole? But I feel so broken... so imperfect... so limited!"
But wholeness is not for the mind to comprehend. If you have a heart that beats and you're of any age at all, you are whole. You're wholeness itself. It is your nature.
Feelings of brokeness show up in the wholeness that you are. Feelings and thoughts of imperfection and lack show up in the perfect wholeness that you are. Beliefs that you are somehow damaged or no good arise and dissolve in the vast, luminous, and peaceful wholeness that you are.
Are you curious about this wholeness? Do you want to experience it for yourself again and again? Do you wish to have such an intimate relationship with wholeness that it reminds you that it's here, that you are ok, that everything is alright, like a good ol' friend? Are you tired of "not good enough" thoughts filling your head? Are you tired of aches and pains in the body that fool your mind into believing that this body is really all there is to you?
If it's a yes to any of these questions, I invite you to join me in inquiring into wholeness. While the in-person version of the new Wholeness I Am: Yoga Nidra Study Group has filled, there is still room and time to join online. The recordings from each live session are uploaded monthly, and you can leave your questions, comments, and reflections on the private webpage. Learn more @ shiraozsinai.com/wholeness-i-am.
To experience the first few minutes of the Study Group as well as a brief practice with wholeness (9 minutes long), please enjoy the FREE recording below of the opening words and meditation from the first session of Wholeness I Am: Study Group. Enjoy!
Want more? Register now @ shiraozsinai.com/wholeness-i-am.
May all beings intimately know the interconnected wholeness that we are,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Shira Oz-Sinai is a spiritual teacher trained in iRest® Yoga Nidra meditation and Soul Lightening Acupressure®, two modalities that share the common principle of noticing what arises in awareness as the foundation to living life with ease and in deep and loving friendship with yourself. These are her musings.