Sweetness, beauty, and love

Today I offer you a guest post from my friend Sarah Tomlinson. Sarah and I met when I was planning the NYC leg of my book launch. We discovered that we both had a passion for yoga, yantras and all the wonderful tools that promote health and wellbeing. Sarah also lives with Type 1 Diabetes. I asked her to share how she has come to terms with her diagnosis and how she supports others to live well through working with the power and beauty of yantras.

Take it away Sarah!

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Venus is the planet of love, it is also known as the planet of Art and Beauty. Being an astrological ayurvedic counselor I am very much involved with the significance of the planets. I have been living with type one diabetes since I was 21years old. It struck in the middle of many years of healthy eating and yoga and meditation.

Type one is an interesting auto-immune disorder and the stress reduction technique I craved with this diagnosis was to do with soothing my emotions. I had the physical practices in place, as a longtime yogini and mindful nutritionist but I longed for something that would soothe my emotional unrest and allow me to, for a while, forget about the physical body. Could I be transported into a spiritual practice that was not focused on the physical body?

A few years later I met a renaissance man, his name was Harish Johari, not only was he at the forefront of bringing Eastern teachings of mysticism to the West, he also brought the knowledge of sacred geometric shapes, known as Yantras to us. Once I discovered that drawing and coloring these was a form of prayer I was hooked.

He gave me twenty-four Yantras to work with. Each one induces a calm yet specific vibration within the viewer. As I studied these, embracing each one fully, I started to notice that as my Yantra practice deepened, my blood sugar levels became more stable. By not focusing all of the time on the physical aspect of well-being I filled up my well of emotions, which had become somewhat of a destitute wasteland and regained some mental and emotional balance.

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Venus is the planet of sweetness. The sweet taste is associated with Venus. I wonder if there is something here, love, sweetness, beauty, and Art. Something that I felt was lacking when I became diabetic, and maybe even was the source of my imbalance when I developed this condition, was becoming fulfilled with this Venusian practice of creating Yantras.

And this spectacular practice draws me in daily. I draw, I color, for maybe 10 minutes and maybe two hours, each day. It is the time when I find the bliss of the present moment, I get to focus on me, the real me, the me that is happy, soothed and contented. From this place, I can move out into my day with grace. I am more in tune with the beauty and positive things around me.

I teach Yantra Painting to bring this practice to others and to continue to learn about the qualities each of the twenty-four Yantras has. This is an incredible practice that comes from the ancient tantrics, the mystics from northern India, and yet it has helpful implications for today.

Last year I created the book “Coloring Yantras” to teach more people than I can reach in my workshops, about the healing power of the twenty-four Yantras, their meaning, and benefit, and to invite people to pick up a colored pencil or pen and start to color.

Try it, maybe it will fill you up with sweetness, beauty, and love too.

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Sarah Tomlinson is an internationally acclaimed Yantrika (Yantra teacher and practitioner), yoga teacher and artist, with renowned fans across the globe including Elena Brower and Sharon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga. Sarah worked extensively with her mentor Harish Johari in India, he initiated her into the spiritual practice of painting Yantras. She leads retreats and Yantra workshops around the world and enjoys lots of time by the ocean with her husband and two young boys.

You can find out more about Sarah @ www.sarahyantra.com  and order her books here

 

Rachel Zinman Yoga

There will always be Beauty

When I was first diagnosed in 2008 it was a complete shock. I’ll never forget the moment my ex-husband rushed into my Yoga room and announced that the doctor had told him my blood work was odd and I needed to make an appointment straight away. I thought it was Yoga Burnout, working too hard for too many years, nothing a good rest and some herbs couldn’t cure. The doctor was tough, “You’re Diabetic and you’ll need to be responsible for your own cure if you don’t want to end up on Insulin.” He didn’t know what type of Diabetes I had, he assumed it was Type 2. But after visiting the specialist, who was equally puzzled we deduced it was Pre Diabetes and that it could be reversed. I was put on a strict diet and exercise regime, had to shun my vegetarian ways and build up my Iron, B12 and try and balance a host of other anomalies like pituitary and thyroid issues. Instead of pushing myself harder and doing more physical Yoga I turned to the devotional aspect, Bhakti.

Bhakti is the Yoga of emotion, devotion and surrender. If my Type A personality had driven me to this point surely I could learn to soften those rough edges through bringing more surrender to my daily life. I began to go for long walks enjoying the sights, smells and beauty of the flowers that lined the streets. Soon I began picking the flowers and bringing them home and shaping them into patterns called Yantras which represent the invisible and visible patterns we see all around us such as leaves, spiderwebs and snowflakes. Science tells us that when we concentrate on shapes it invokes the parasympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that relaxes us after a stressful event). Sight is one of our predominate senses so any form of artistic activity calms and nurtures us, but according to studies children learn best when working with geometrical shapes and colours first, before moving on to letters and numbers.

For me, the daily absorption of placing flowers into simple geometrical designs took my mind out of its need to get lost in the fears and projections of what might be. It brought me to a place of acceptance and surrender. Even if I could not enjoy sweets like I used to I could still create something beautiful.

Rachel Zinman Yoga

Through my daily practice and the art of surrender I was able to make the choice to go on Insulin and accept my diagnosis. Now I see the sweetness in everything and feel lucky that there is something like Insulin to keep me alive and sharing what I love. Yoga, no matter what style or form, helps me to manage the disease on a daily basis. That’s why I am so passionate to share some of the things I have learned with you.

Why not take some time today to reconnect with your own beauty and sweetness and let me know how it went…with great respect Rachel

Rachel Zinman Yoga

When you go out into your day take some time to look at something beautiful. It could be a flower on the sidewalk, a tree, a bird, the face of a child – anything that touches your heart. Remind yourself that the beauty you see is how beautiful you are.  You are the beauty itself.  Find something beautiful to bring home with you. Something you could put in a special place so you will see it every day.

And a big thank you to Lauren Tober from Capturing Gratitude for the beautiful photos above