It pays to lighten up!

naked eagleI have been a pretty serious person my whole life. Most of the time I lived in survival mode due to the challenging circumstances of my life… some of which I talk about on my website. My Dad used to say to me, “You are a survivor.”  Great, that’s how I want to live my childhood and young adult life.  When I look back on pictures of me when I was younger I never smiled, it was more like a sneer. When people used to say to me, “Have a nice day,” I would answer, “Don’t tell me what kind of day to have!”  I was a messy brat! I never used to laugh, barely even smile.  It’s really only been in the last few years that I have started to “lighten up” and relax more. Recently I have been going through another “upgrade” or a purging of all my old beliefs and outdated thoughts that no longer serve me.  I have been moving onto the path of a conscious co-creator and my life has slowly been changing to reflect my new thoughts and beliefs.  I find I have much more time to relax now, to enjoy life, to smile, to play and to laugh.  I have an abundance of love in my life, have an amazing new relationship and amazing good health.  I feel so blessed.    One thing I learned in my spiritual studies is that a common characteristic of “enlightened awakened people” is their sense of humor, and that our Creator, God, has the biggest sense of humor of all! I’ve learned that during times of conflict especially in relationship, humor shifts the energy and helps to alleviate tension. It’s not a tool that I’m used to using but I am applying it more and more.  Trust me, it works!  When you do add regular doses of play into your life you find you have more vitality and energy. People say all the time they don’t have time to relax, but you really can’t afford not to.  It is as essential to your health and well being as sleep and good nutrition. The most important component of your sense of humor is really your attitude. You can be super busy but inside feel serenity and peace and that will bring into your life more calming down time.   Remember this is all  temporary…breathe and relax into the wonderful person you already are.  All that you need is within you, but to access that you need to get through.  If there is too much noise and static you can never hear your soul and your soul will always lead you to your greatest joy and always want to play.  Take time for your soul and let it shine! Namaste.

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My Everyday Heroes

IMG_1040webThe people that inspire me are the ones that most people wouldn’t look to for inspiration.  They haven’t done anything to merit the Noble Peace Prize, haven’t dedicated their life to saving the hungry and oppressed, don’t have a kajillion followers on Facebook, or super powers…they are just ordinary people but they have suffered extra ordinary circumstances in their lives.  While all of us, having lived a while on this earth will end up knowing the heartbreak and sadness of loss, there are people that have really known it…all too well.  I know people who have lost their spouses suddenly, their true love, their forever companions and the worst loss I believe is the loss of a child.  I look at these people in my life and wonder how they do it…how they continue on?  It amazes me that they still get up everyday and go to work with a smile on their face and… continue to be kind and helpful to others.  Having suffered my own losses; I know sometimes just getting up in the morning and getting out the door with a smile on your face is a huge task.  The holidays can be a tough time for people that have lost loved ones.  I am dedicating this blog, my thoughts and my prayers to all of you…know that your silent suffering and heartache is not in vain; know that you are not alone and your light, although dim, is still shining.  Thank you for being a true warrior and inspiration.

Practice dying

IMG_4642When I first started studying Buddhism back in 2003 I learned a powerful meditation technique that made a lasting impression on my mind to this day; it was meditating on your death.  A lot of people have a negative response when I talk about this meditation, saying that it’s depressing and morbid and why would I want to think about that?!  The truth is we are all going to “die” someday and the other truth is that we never really know when.  That is the reality, but it’s a reality that is not usually at the forefront of our mind.  What happens when you do think about it? For me it jolts me back to life in a strange sort of way.  True I do get a little anxiety after I meditate or contemplate my dying, but it always puts everything in perspective for me and gives me a chance to let go and begin again, in a much more heart centered and soul focused way.  I tend to lighten up and stop reacting and getting frustrated over the small stuff.  It brings me back to my truth of what is important for me, which is spending as many moments as I can in love, in peace and in happiness.  Death heightens our appreciation of every moment we are alive and calls out to us: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver)   “We do not know where death awaits us, so let us wait for it everywhere. To practice death is to practice freedom. A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” (Michel de Montaigne)   By practicing dying doesn’t mean we walk around being doom and gloom and announcing the death of all living things.  It actually is the opposite. *Practicing dying means living as close to reality as we can in each moment.  It is the ultimate bravery.  It helps you stand undefended before the ultimate truth with an open heart and an objective mind.  “When we practice dying we are learning to identify less with the Ego and more with the Soul.” -Ram Dass
*From Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser

Compassionate heart.

There are times when my heart feels so sad. I am a very sensitive soul and I feel things so deeply. I’ve been told I have a lot of extra “antennas”, more than most people.  This is a double edged sword for me.  It’s good for my clients and students that I work with, but it’s hard for me when I’m having conflict in relationship not to overreact and get so emotional. When I feel stuck in this emotion of sadness that I just can’t seem to shake, my way out is to pray to God as such:  ”Use my sadness God. Help me to not close down my heart and shut off from the world but help me to stay open in the pain and sorrow. Use my broken heart to help heal the heart of another. Thank you. Amen.”  When we are suffering that’s when we are the most understanding and compassionate to others pain and suffering. That is what I have learned. “Use my pain to help heal another” is a very powerful mantra. What this mantra or prayer is actually doing is giving you the space to breathe again and to shift into a higher awareness that we are all connected and we are not alone in our sorrow.  It brings you back to your innate compassionate inner wisdom. Sometimes that is all you need for your heart to be happy again. Try it next time you are struggling and see what happens.  I pray for your happiness and that all beings everywhere be free.
Namaste. Love, SoulFire

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Gifts from my yoga students

photoOne of my yoga classes that I have been teaching for the last 4 years at a corporation has had its last hurrah. Although this was a pretty unconventional yoga class, done in the cafeteria, on a cold, hard, dirty floor with ants and loud warning bells going off in the middle of class, this was one of my favorite classes.  It wasn’t because of the stellar environment but because of the students that came every week. They truly loved and appreciated me and the yoga I was sharing with them. It changed their life.  Although I was bringing to them the gift of yoga and inner peace, week after week they showed me what true caring was.  They knew I had been going through some rough times and they were the ones ironically that were there for me.

As I was going for a run the other day, I was thinking about this particular class and how I was going to miss them.  This then brought me to another thought. I began to reminisce over the last 13 years I have been teaching yoga and how my yoga teacher, Mokshapriya, was right when she said to me when I was going through a really rough time in my life and feeling alone, “You are not alone, you have your yoga students.” At the time I really couldn’t understand that truth. It didn’t sink in, I just kind of blew it off. During my run the other day though, that truth came barreling into my mind, then into my heart and I literally had to stop running I was crying so hard.  I couldn’t believe it. What an epiphany for me. Yes, Mokshapriya, you were right. I get it now.  All these years I thought I was giving so much of myself through my yoga classes and private sessions but in fact it was and is my yoga students that give so much back to me.

I remember so many times I would be crying in my car driving to go teach a class, pull up to the studio, wiping the tears off my face and saying to myself, “Ok this is not about you right now, get it together. You have no idea who’s in that class, what they are going through and how much they might need yoga right now. Put your pain and heartache to the side, smile and show them your love.” Those were some of my most powerful classes.  Most of you don’t know this, but while you we’re in shivasana, I would sit there with you and silently cry. I went through some pretty tough times in the last decade, as many of you know.  Teaching yoga was my saving grace. My students were my saving grace. As I look back on all the emails, notes, talks, hugs, words of encouragement that have been given so freely and abundantly to me over the last 13 years I am overwhelmed with such gratitude and love that I can’t help but shed tears as I write this letter to you.
So I want to say thank you. It seems that these two words are not enough for what you have given to me, but I want you to know that all of these moments and all of your support has helped shape me and has helped me to grow and to heal. You have been an important part of my journey and I am so grateful for your presence in my life. To all of my yoga teacher friends, you too have helped me to heal and grow. Thank you for holding my hand, for holding my heart and for loving me.
I love you,
SoulFire (Stefania)

Where the name SoulFire came from

black and white angelIt was brought to my attention recently that my name change from Stefania to SoulFire was not understood correctly.  The transformation that I went through in 2013 was a huge shift for me in so many ways.  There were a lot of endings and a lot of new beginnings. The details are too extensive for this blog but I will be including it in my book.  With regard to the name SoulFire, that is the name that my Guardian Angels call me. I also have a symbol, which is a vertical line with wispy lines going through it that represent the fire. My new SoulFire logo has the symbol in the middle.  If you look closely you can see it. All of this is explained on my new website http://ignitethesoulfire.com/ under the “about” tab. It is tradition in India that you receive a spiritual name from your teacher or guru,  much like in Catholicism and other religions. I never had a guru but I do have four fabulous Guardian angels (Carmen, Victor, Archangel Raphael and Archangel Michael) and one spirit guide (Omi my twin brother from our lifetime in Tibet); otherwise known as the Fab Five! To me they are my family. I love them so much and feel their love and support around me all the time. I will admit I was a little hesitant about “coming out” with my new name and telling people where it came from. I know there are some people that will think I am coo coo, but it’s the truth and I am not afraid to share it.  Angels are just as real as you and I.  I love my angelic name, SoulFire. It makes me so happy to hear people calling me by my new name. It makes my heart sing!  For those of you who are interested in knowing who your Guardian angels are and actually be able to communicate with them, reach out to Dana Livoti. It is through her gift of communication with the angels that changed my life. (631) 245-5705 angelintuition@yahoo.com

 

Love thy Neighbor- Gratitude is my prayer

It was Sunday morning about 7:30am, I’m lying in bed, soaking in my first morning in a long time that I can sleep in, when I heard a loud knock/pounding on my door. My first thought was, are you kidding me!?  Then I thought maybe if I don’t answer they will go away.  No such luck; the insistent knocking continued. So I begrudgingly crawled out of bed to see who was at my door. It was the aide who lives downstairs with the old man Joe, who has Parkinsons.  Apparently he was on the floor again refusing to get up.  This has been a pretty regular thing with Joe now so I am familiar with the drill. I get dressed all the while murmuring to myself not so very pleasant things, after all it was Sunday morning, my special day! I start talking to myself, saying, “Don’t let this ruin your whole day. Keep a good attitude. You have been looking forward to this peaceful day for weeks now. And if you plan on walking in your truth of loving thy neighbor, stop complaining and put a smile on your face. Love sometimes is not convenient. Think about how they must feel.”

My self-talk helped a little bit, so I muster up a little sunshine and head downstairs to find Joe stark naked on the floor with the aide very upset. We get him up after about 15 minutes of trying.  It’s no easy task to pick a 200 lb. man off the floor who isn’t helping. She thanks me and I leave, still a little annoyed I will admit, but trying hard to be kind and loving. I open my door and see a huge spider crawling very fast across my stairs. I ran outside, freaking out, thinking… great now I can’t even get back in my house because there is no way I am stepping one foot in my home with that ginormous thing running around!

Boy Karma works fast! I walk next door to my other neighbor who has helped me out many times with the spider thing and knock on their door. I am humbled at this point and  feeling like this is happening for a reason. My neighbors’ wife tells me he is in the shower, so I tell her not to bother him. Being the amazing neighbor that he is, he gets out anyway and rushes over. After a little searching he finds the spider and puts him outside. He doesn’t believe in killing anything, another reason why I love him.

My neighbor has also come over out of a nap and not feeling well to check on my dog, Karma because I was worried she had a tick.

My other neighbor watches my dog when I am at work.

And my landlord and his wife always are looking out for me and feeding me!

How many people do you know that will make a sacrifice and go out of their way to show a kindness or do a good deed for someone else? It’s amazing that I am living and surrounded by these type of wonderful people.

My reminder that Sunday morning was that love is not always convenient. There are times when you need to make sacrifices for others. And it’s important that you do it with a loving, kind heart. You never know when you will be in need.  After all Jesus’ two most important teachings are: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And the second is: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Namaste.

Embrace the fire.

In yoga there are a set of guidelines for living in a harmonious, peaceful and truthful way with yourself, others and the environment.  They are called the yamas and niyamas. There are ten. Today I am focusing on the Niyama, Tapas, which loosely translates to transformation. It is the burning away of all that is holding you back, limiting you from being and living from your ultimate truth and potential. Most of the time it is our limiting thoughts and beliefs, our “story”  we have about ourselves that hold us back.  The tapas or spiritual fire is a clearing and renewal, and is a necessary part of our evolution as spiritual beings. There are many ways to purify ourselves and our thoughts and minds.  Yoga practice is one way that is very effective and efficient.  Looking at nature we can take example from the giant sequoia tree, one of the oldest trees on the planet averaging 3,500 years old. The secret to the longevity of the sequoia is the elemental power of fire. Periodic forest fires clear away everything that threatens the trees survival while ensuring their growth and regeneration. giant_sequoia4Without the fires’ heat, the sequoia cones couldn’t open and release their seeds.  Without the clearing force of fire sequoia seedlings would be overcrowded by competing shade trees and not have enough sunlight to grow.  In our own life usually looking back we can see how a perceived failure or our dreams going up in flames brought us to another phase in our life more wonderful than which we could have ever imagined.  When you are in the pit of the “fire” remember that the adversity is an opportunity to grow, to transform by letting go of the old habitual thought patterns, and to embrace more fully your innate talents and creativity. A gift resides in every moment. Let it burn!

Robert Moses Beach, my magical sanctuary

When I need peace of mind, a sanctuary and illumination I escape to Robert Moses Beach.  It’s a 20 minute drive but so worth it.  It’s my regular 3 times a week thing. Just driving over those 3 bridges is cathartic.  A few weeks ago I was really struggling with a deep hurt in my heart. As I was driving over the bridges I could actually feel the sadness leaving my heart and felt myself being filled up with this feeling of “okness” then happiness then complete joy. By magical mosesthe time I got over the third bridge I was singing and dancing in my car! It was so amazing that it happened so fast. I have heard that when your sadness or negative emotions leave you and you are filled with peace and joy that means your angels are there with you. As I was thinking those thoughts I looked up with so much love and gratitude in my heart and said “thank you Angels.”  Next thing I know a car drives past me with a license plate that says, “my angel.”  You can’t make this stuff up!  We are always surrounded by love and support, sometimes you just need to let go and tune in.

Believe in angels. Namaste.

“My fear is my only courage.” -Bob Marley

ninja-tigerWell it’s been one week days since my “coming out” of Soulfire and the launch of my new website. I have received so much support and positive feedback via email, phone calls, text, and my new contact form from my site. I am surrounded by so much love. Thank you.  “My fear is my only courage.”…one of the quotes from my site.  My fear was to make myself vulnerable to the entire world. I shared very personal things on my website that I have never shared with anyone, and brought my insides to the outside.  I did it and I didn’t die!  “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ” – Marianne Williamson

I want to take this time to thank two very special women who without their help my amazing website would not have been possible.  It’s very rare that you find not just in one, but in two people so much talent and at the same time the willingness to go the extra mile for you:  Wendy Jarva, the artist and photographer who designed my logo and captured Soulfire’s essence through her photography and Laura Peragallo, the artist and web designer who brought my vision to fruition. These two women went over and beyond for me and I am blown away by their talent, dedication, integrity and support. Thank you ladies!