Full Moon Energy and Self-Awareness

I used to bartend and wait tables.  I did this all throughout college.   I remember nights bartending when I never took my head out of the well.  I would be making margaritas and cocktails non-stop without ever having the chance to look up!  I couldn’t keep up with how quickly drinks where being ordered and slammed.  These nights, I always knew, were full moon nights.  I could always call it.  The energy of the group as a collective was high, vibrant, chaotic, a little wild, and always unexpected and interesting.  It ALWAYS felt unstable.  As we’d wrap our nights up and walk to our cars I’d look up at the bright moon and call out “hello old friend!”

Did you know that emergency rooms more often than not are more busy on full moons?   Did you know that luna means moon and is of Latin origin?  And that the word lunatic comes from the word lunaticus which means “of the moon” or “moonstruck.”  The word lunatic means dangerously foolish or unpredictable.

I think that if the moon can affect the ocean’s tide twice a day it can certainly have an effect on us.  I don’t think it affects everyone the same.  I think certain people are more sensitive to the effects of the moon than others.  Just like some people are more sensitive to chemicals, environmental toxins, smoke, dairy, etc.  I do think that since  we are over  70% water and that the brain is made up of mostly water it can effect us in various ways. I do notice though the longer I practice Yoga the more sensitive I become.

I use the full moon energy to help me fine tune my self-awareness.  Each full moon is different.  I always try to remain more alert.  It’s the perfect opportunity to practice.  I know when a full moon is coming because I tend to have trouble falling a sleep one to two nights before because of increased energy.  I wake up bright and early.  Sometimes before 5 AM but fully ready to go!   Today, I am remaining more watchful because I feel very emotionally sensitive.  I have already teared up several times which is out of sync with my regular pattern.  As long as I remain watchful I remain balanced.   I feel a little impulsive and a little reckless, could that be the “luna” effect on me?  Could the moon’s gravitational pull be effecting rhythms in the brain?   I think the pull can effect our hormone balance temporarily.  I think it pulls on us subtly just as it effects the whole.  I try to stay watchful so that I recognize what is “me” and what is the moon’s pull on me.

I love full moons because it gives me an excellent opportunity to watch my inner-self.  I practice self-awareness and try to feel my way through what is real and what is illusion.  Why am I writing about this today?  Because today is a super moon!

It is the largest full moon of 2012.  The moon is passing by the earth even closer than usual so the gravitational pull is different.  I am staying alert, staying present, and staying the watcher of the whole experience.  This is Yoga.  We are meant to be the inner watchmen.  In watching ourselves we make clear what is real and what is maya, illusion.  In seeing clearly we see reality.  Full moons give us a perfect chance to practice self-awareness.  We can use the moon’s energy to help guide us back to Self.

Brightest Blessings,

Sandra Vanatko


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I Got an A+ On My Yoga Pop Quiz

I sit down tonight to write  before going to bed. I know in the morning the meaning and urgency will be less, skewed, and possibly unclear. I might just miss an opportunity to write.  So often I hear my heart whisper “write” but I do not find myself in front of the computer often enough.  Tonight is different.  I recognize and honor that the heart has something to say.  I honor it by making time.

Today was an interesting day.  I feel like the Universe gave me a pop quiz….. AND, I am proud to say I think I passed with an A+   I passed today with flying colors.  Yoga is working.  I kicked back and laughed as I realized that all the hard work I continue to put in on my mat continues to step in and help when “stuff” comes up.  It’s beautiful, yes, oh so beautiful!

So Tuesdays are BUSY!!  Tuesdays are my first day back in class after the weekend.  Today, on my way to class while driving I found that I was driving slanted and everything was bumpy.  I arrived at the studio and realized that I got a flat and  it’s not a flat like pump me up and get somewhere flat, it’s flat as a doornail flat.

Then skip forward to this evening.  I get home it’s 8:20 PM and I’m excited because I made miso soup last night so that it would be ready because I know my weekdays get BUSY and I’m hungry by this time and am excited that something is ready and dinner will be easy tonight.  When I pull my soup out and take the lid off I watch with big eyes as my soup is….well…..fermenting.  It’s bubbling slightly.  I’ve made miso soup a thousand times and it’s never been ALIVE!!!!  I watch it fascinated.  I take a spoon to it and watch as goo drools off the edge of the spoon.  My soup is FUNKY!!  I am curious and puzzled and decide that this is probably not fit to eat.  LOL. This takes me to an investigation of the fridge and I find  that the fridge is out.

When I realized this I tilted my head back and laughed, and said, Universe, pop quiz today?  I smiled and picked up the phone to call a neighbor to see if they had a number for a good fridge guy.

Why am I writing all this?  Because I want share that there was a time not very long ago that all of this would have been met with so much RESISTANCE.  Today, however each situation seemed to spontaneously be looked at as a challenge, not a problem.  Instead of resisting the present moment I seemed to spontaneously move with the present moment.  I know these are gifts from my daily practice.  I know that in the past I might have been irritated with having to take time out of “my” schedule to deal with a flat tire.  Funny thing is for about the last two weeks I’ve been wanting to get to Discount Tire because I needed to rotate my tires but hadn’t because of a busy schedule.  Funny how things take care of themselves.  Coincidence?  I will let you decide.  Today after changing my flat and rotating the tires I told the Universe thank you. I giggled and said you know me and you KNOW how to get me in here and take care of this.

Tonight after visiting with the repair man and getting details of the repair there was no stress.  Again, there was no resistance to what was.  There was no taking the situation personally.  I know I used to personalize EVERYTHING.  “WHY IS THE HAPPENING TO ME??!!” would have been my immediate response to something like this.  Or I might argue, what did I do to deserve this or perhaps  “this isn’t fair!!!

None of that exists inside anymore.  What’s left is full acceptance of what is without personalization, judgement, or criticism.  I got my tires rotated and I cleaned my fridge out today!  Wow!  I searched for the blessings in today. I always search for blessings in everything.  I trust that if I don’t see the blessing than I need to change my inner sight.  I need to change the way I’m looking to find the blessing.   And, today, really wasn’t that bad.  I know it would have been BAD to the me not too long ago.  Now, I see things aren’t that big of a deal if you just move with the moment.

I LOVE YOGA!!  The longer I practice the more I watch the miracle of awareness and mindfulness grow inside.  I watch as judgement, analyzation, and criticism disappear from my mind.    Each time I get on my mat and work even when I don’t want to I am learning to discipline the mind. I am learning SURRENDER.  I am learning that God, The Universe,  or The Infinite doesn’t personalize anything.  Everything just is.  Today was the perfect pop quiz to see if all the Yoga I’m doing is working.  I am so pleased to say I passed with flying colors.  I am happy because I remember a time not so long ago when a day like this would have been so difficult.  It would have drained me of energy because of the resistance to the now.  I am sure there would have been tears of frustration, and the day would have finished with a headache because of my inner tension and struggle with the reality of what is the present moment.  Tonight, instead, I am very happy.  I passed my quiz!   Yoga is 1/8 physical the rest is how you react/act to Life off your mat.

To sum this up, Life will give you a pop quiz once in a while to see if you are learning your life lessons.  Sometimes too, we will get tests as well!  Today was a quiz.  I am thankful that I was able to manage gently and efficiently while not blaming anything or anyone for the situation.  It just is what it is.  How lovely is that?  Free from personalization we become free ourselves.

To finish, I am adding one of my favorite quotes and pictures to go along with this article. I am happy.  I am thankful.  I am grateful that this experience today got me to sit down and write!  The Universe knows exactly what to do to get you honoring your heart.  And for that I feel like the little girl below.  It’s so perfect.  You might have to adjust your filter so that you can see just how PERFECT it all really is.

Sending all my love this evening,

Sandra Vanatko

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” – Buddha ~ ♥ ~

One of My Favorites

Screen shot 2012-05-01 at 10.20.25 PM

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” – Buddha ~ ♥ ~


Happiness Graph! Get Yourself a Handful!

Awesome and Simple Happiness Infographic by Mindbody GreenOne of my students, Jenny Reitz of Karma Fly Design sent this graph to me.  It’s beautiful!  It made me giggle.  It REALLY is that simple.  Don’t make life difficult!  Take a look at the graph, how does it make you feel? Does your ego scream, it’s not that simple!  If so, go read this blog.  I hope it helps you use this graph easier.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  It’s simple “ARE YOU HAPPY?”  If the answer is yes, keep doing what you are doing, if the answer is no and you want to be happy, change something!

Here’s the trick though, changing something doesn’t often time mean changing something EXTERNALLY.  It often times means there needs to be an internal shift, your thoughts, your attitude, or possibly your beliefs need shifting.

If you are not happy ask what needs to shift so that you will be happy. Watch as you pick things external of yourself.  This is the ego trying to keep you safe and blame others for your unhappiness.  Now if you really want to get happy ask yourself again what needs to shift so you can be happy, dig deeper, what can YOU do so that YOU can be happy.   Remember that you cannot control much outside of yourself so now that you know your happiness is in your hands go get yourself a handful!

Life is meant to be playful and beautiful.  A controlled and disciplined mind will bring you everything.

Sending all my Love,

Sandra Vanatko


Acceptance. Another Option.

Tuesday I was visiting with one of my students and we were talking about the weather.  If you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard, Texas is suffering from a severe heat wave with temperatures over a hundred degrees daily.  Today our high is supposed to be 109.  It’s only seven a.m. as I write and it’s already 85.  Yikes!  Everything is dying outside. Everything has turned brown and is drying up.  One of my students and I were visiting and in the middle of conversation she blurted out “I JUST WANT TO BLAME SOMEONE!!!”  We both started laughing so hard.  I almost fell over.   We both vented our frustration about how HOT it is right now.  I totally understood what she meant and how she feels.  Funny, though, you can’t really BLAME nature, can you?  So let this become your sadhana, your spiritual practice.

I was writing the other day and want to quote something from it.  “Our primitive brain works in two ways, fight or flight.  Our spirit gives us a third option, ACCEPTANCE.”  I remember my teacher always telling me that I have three options when any “problem” arises.  I’ve never forgotten his words of wisdom.  He always would say that in any situation you can:

1.  Leave the situation.

2.  Change the situation.

3.  Accept the situation fully.

Funny, I had never even considered the third option but as I continue to grow in my spiritual path I find the third option, ACCEPTANCE, is often the most powerful, most effective, and most lasting.  So many times I’ve thought I don’t have options in situations but now I realize I do have options, I certainly do!  You have freedom but you may choose not to exercise that freedom.

Back to our three options.  You can’t always leave the situation.  So now that only gives you two remaining options.   So what about changing the situation?  Sometimes this is possible, but again sometimes, NOT!  The third option and I believe most effective, is fully accepting the current situation.  Often times the miracle is a shift in your perception.

I will repeat that because I think it’s so important.  Often times in your problems the miracle is a shift in YOUR perception, in YOUR thoughts.  When your perception shifts the whole situation shifts.  Sometimes what you thought was a problem, won’t even be a problem after shifting your perception.  Acceptance is a powerful tool to use because if forces you to be more mentally flexible.  When you allow for mental flexibility you create space where your consciousness can expand.

Your ego may tell you that running away from the situation is cowardly.  I disagree.  In some circumstances I think it’s the best decision to make.  If a lion comes up on a deer the deer would be stupid to try to fight a lion, the deers strength is to run away, it’s the lions strength to fight.  For example, you cannot fight with negativity.  The moment you fight with negativity you become negative. Often time the wisest option is to run away from negativity.

So back to blaming the weather!

Let’s use our three options on the weather.  Unless you have a lot of money you can’t run away from the weather here in Weatherford.  So option one is probably out!  Option two is also out because you cannot change the weather.  So now all we have left is option number three.  We can accept the weather!  In this state of acceptance it doesn’t mean that now you will be loving the weather.  You might not be happy but you will have internal peace because you are in a state of acceptance where as before you were in a  state of resistance and any form of resistance is a form of negativity.  By accepting the weather as it is you will immediately lighten your load and have peace.

Start practicing your options with small problems in your life.  As you see this formula work for you begin applying this spiritual wisdom daily in your life to help you make good rational decisions.

Sending all my Love,

Sandra Vanatko


Photo by Jenny Reitz




Your Happiness is In Your Hands

Did you know that you hold the key to your happiness?  We tend to think others will make us happy or certain circumstances will bring us happiness but actually happiness is an inside job.

The key to your happiness is in your hands and only your hands. When you try to hold others responsible for making you happy sooner or later you will be disappointed.  We tend to blame others when we are not happy.  We like to put the blame somewhere besides ourselves when we are not happy but Yoga says YOU and ONLY YOU are in charge of your happiness.  When you are not happy look within.


The moment you realize this you become free from counting on others for your happiness.  Understanding this in itself is enlightening!  Happiness is your job.  To make someone else responsible for your happiness is giving your power for happiness to another.  When you make another responsible for your well-being and happiness more than yourself you will sooner or later be disappointed without a doubt.

It is very easy to say I’m not happy because so and so did this.  Or I am not happy because this or that happened.  When we realize that it is actually our attitude towards what happened that makes us happy or not,  we can learn to change our attitude and perception about events to keep our happiness.

Couple things to remember to keep your happiness.

1. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
2. Happiness stays with those who are able to shift their perceptions, so stay open-minded.

So many times our ego gets in the way of our happiness.  Why do we have a need to be right?  Many times a shift in perception about needing to be right will help us maintain peace and happiness.  Next time you are in a conflict of will or an argument ask yourself, is it really worth it?  Hardly, if you are losing your peace to maintain your ego you will be disappointed afterwards because the ego can only temporarily be fulfilled before its starts searching for something else to bring it gratification.

Those who are flexible in thought maintain their happiness more.  When we are firm in the way it “has to be” this attitude can create a lot of suffering.  I always remember my teacher saying, “you plan, God laughs.”  Life is many times plan B. When you are so focused that things have to be a certain way you set yourself up to suffer. One who is flexible in mind and in outcomes will be happiest.  Yoga says don’t plan too much, wait and go with the flow, the more you flow with the is-ness of the now the more you maintain your happiness and peace.

I will give you an example.  Two neighbors, two different attitudes.  Let’s say there is one neighbor that always plays really loud music on the weekends.  Two people can have two totally different perceptions about it.  One guy may turn his music down and listen to the neighbors music and realize that he now has a new genre of music he likes because he is flexible.  Ever heard the saying if you can’t beat them, join them?  In being flexible he expanded his experience and his level of consciousness.  The second neighbor may get irritated.  He gets into a battle of wills, turns his music up or just complains about the “loud noise” without ever opening up the possibility of a peaceful solution which will help him maintain his happiness.  He could possibly move away, but is that not just a temporary solution?  What if the next neighbor also plays loud music. Will he move away again?   The first neighbor makes an internal adjustment to the external circumstance where the second neighbor makes an external adjustment that can only temporarily fix the problem.  Internal adjustments and shifts are so much more powerful than external adjustments and shifts.

So one who keeps his happiness is one who is internally flexible.

So today when you see that your happiness and peace has left you, see what internal adjustment you can make to regain it.  You cannot control external events but you can certainly control how you feel about them internally.  The more ability you have to be flexible in thought the more happiness will be your constant companion.

Sending you all my love today.

Sandra Vanatko
Indra’s Grace


Hidden Blessings

This week has definitely been an interesting one.  Indra’s Grace has now been closed since Tuesday.  We have almost been closed a full work week.  I am writing candidly today and sharing my thoughts.   It is the first time I realize a different side of owning your own business.  In owning your own business, when you don’t work there is no income.  I understood this over Christmas break but as taking the break knowingly I prepared for it financially.  This week is different. It could be a source of stress but bringing acceptance to the way things are allows a whole new world to open up.  Hidden blessings show up everywhere when we bring ACCEPTANCE to the present moment, even if it’s not what our minds would choose first.

I want to share that in EVERYTHING there is always hidden blessings.  We cannot control nature.  That is the beauty of nature, that is the mystery of nature, it is literally unpredictable.  What we can do is immediately ACCEPT what nature brings us.  The quicker we can accept what is the quicker we have peace of mind.  We can learn to accept the present moment.  We can learn to accept the “is-ness” of the now.  One of life’s greatest spiritual lessons is to bring ACCEPTANCE to the present moment. When you bring acceptance to the present moment you bring a higher consciousness to what is and you can work with the present moment from a higher vantage point than if you work with the present moment with resistance. Resistance zaps energy and takes away our energy to work WITH the present moment fully.

It is rather humorous when you think about the fact that we want to change what is sometimes!  You are spoiling your mood and an opportunity to enjoy hidden blessings when you resist the present moment.  If you can just shift your perception to accepting instead of resisting you will open up to a whole new state of consciousness that will allow you to work with the present moment.

“You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.” – Albert Einstein

This week I’ve had no classes but it has opened up a full week of practicing yoga at home, catching up on work, finishing a video for the studio, resting, quiet time, writing, updating the website, and finishing other projects that I hear a quiet voice inside me urging me to do.  How many projects do we have that go on undone because we think we don’t have time?  In this week, it’s been such a blessing to have so much “forced” down time.  Instead of resisting the weather, try enjoying it, maybe even giving yourself permission to slow down and relax, read a book, spend time being quiet.  Our normal routine will be back before you know it but in the unpredictability we also feel more alive because we step out of comfort zone and routine.

I wish you a week full of hidden blessings.  I wish you a chance to see things from a different perspective.  Try bringing ACCEPTANCE this week to all you do.  It makes doing things that aren’t necessarily your favorite easier because you are going with the flow instead of paddling against it.

Sending all my love and hoping you are staying warm,

Sandra Vanatko