Today I am delighted – thrilled beyond words – to share energetic space with Sandra Pawula!
I love Sandra’s energy and message! When I originally discovered her site, I felt her message exudes the energy of grace – an energy that intrigues me and resonates well.
I had placed Sandra on a peer pedestal until we connected through various emails and Skype conversations; although we have yet to meet in person, I consider Sandra a close personal friend. It is an honor to know her – she lives her heart truth and that inspires me to continue living mine.
Sandra Pawula is a freelance writer, mindfulness advocate, and champion of living with ease. She writes about finding greater happiness & freedom on her blog Always Well Within. Her new e-course, Living with Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress begins on Sept. 9th, and you can register right now.
J: The name of your site is Always Well Within. May you share with us a bit about the meaning of this name and your vision for your site?
S: The name of my blog—Always Well Within—was inspired by the Sanskrit word “Samantabhadra,” which means “always good,” “always well,” or “unchanging goodness.” This signifies that unchanging goodness or fundamental goodness is our true nature.
The purpose of Always Well Within is to help others tap into their own inner spring of true happiness and freedom, which arises from connecting to this sense of fundamental goodness.
J: Your tagline says “simple wisdom for a happy life”. May you share with us one of your favorite pieces of wisdom?
S: I would be happy to. I feel it’s pivotal to know you are not your thoughts, emotions, and perceptions. Many of us are enslaved by our thoughts and our emotional states, and thus are frequently triggered by our own mind, other people, and circumstances.
Anger, frustration, insecurity, worry, jealousy, craving, and other turbulent emotions act like cyclones that sweep through our mind and carry us into suffering, agitation, and distress. Modern life is already stressful, isn’t it? This added emotional turmoil could escalate your stress level much further.
If you take time to observe, you will see that thoughts and emotions are like clouds blowing through the sky. If you don’t attach to them, they will pass right by. Instead of amplifying the distressing thought or emotion, identify with your pure awareness instead – your true essence that’s always there 24/7. This is similar to cultivating the sense of presence that is the foundational message you share on Facets of Joy.
(J: It is, Sandra, and I feel this is why your message resonates so well with me – you share wisdom and insight that expands my knowledge, often affirms and consistently inspires!)
J: What do you feel is your ultimate purpose? And, what inspires you as you create and connect?
S: My ultimate purpose is to realize and cultivate this sense of pure awareness within myself, and to help others to do so as well. This is the way to be released from suffering, filled with love and compassion, and introduced to true freedom.
I’m inspired by knowing it’s possible to bring an end to suffering and to find a more enduring state of happiness through working with one’s own mind. True happiness and freedom is your birthright and with presence and awareness you can find your way home.
J: You are offering a new ecourse “Living with Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress”. How did this idea originate? What is your overall intent for the program? And, what might participants “expect” as they embark upon this journey with you?
S: I’ve led a high-stress life and have suffered the consequences. Finally, a light bulb turned on. I realized I had to take responsibility for my stress response. So I began to gather a tool kit of stress reduction techniques and practiced them so I could learn to live with more ease myself.
Now, I would like to help others get out of their cycle of stress before they wake up one day to serious damage. The list of illnesses linked to or exacerbated by stress seems to grow longer each day: heart disease, diabetes, immune-disorders, skin problems, colitis, muscle pain, and so on.
When the flight-or-fight stress response gets turned on, it has a profound impact on the body. For example, the digestive system scales down, blood pressure and blood sugar increase, the muscles tense, and the immune system goes on hold. Generally, there’s no harm from the acute stress response since the relaxation response kicks in to dissolve it once the perceived “danger” is gone. But, due to the craziness of modern life, more and more people are living in a state of constant hyperarousal.
In my Living with Ease course, people will have a chance to identify their personal stress triggers, learn and practice a key mindfulness-based stress reduction technique each week, and acquire a menu of simple and quick supportive practices to help them dilute the stress response. They will be asked to dig deep and explore the hidden beliefs that keep them stuck on the treadmill of stress in an ambiance of care and support.
The practices can be relaxing and fun, so I hope it will be both a revealing and an enjoyable journey for each person. I would like each person to have a taste of more ease in their life and to leave with a mix of practices that work effectively for them so they will be able to meet stress with more resilience.
J: In the class description you share: “Stress reduction isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Give yourself permission to take a few hours each week to devote entirely to yourself. ” May you explain a bit about this?
S: It’s not unusual to think that self-care is a luxury not a necessity. But when you look at the long-term impact of stress, whether it plays out in exhaustion, disease, mental distress like anxiety or depression, failed relationships, or unaccomplished dreams, you begin to realize it’s not an indulgence at all to take time to skillfully address your stress level.
J: What might participants “takeaway” from their experience in this class and how might this enrich their life?
S: I would like participants to know that they don’t have to be a victim to stress. Stress is endemic in modern life. Physical, emotional, mental, and circumstantial stresses will always occur in your life. But you can learn to intercede and diminish the stress response. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice.
At the same time, it’s important to be aware that some people are genetically predisposed to a more active stress response or a weaker relaxation response. Certain diseases can also make you more prone to stress. Early nurturing or the lack there of has an impact on one’s capacity for resilience too. And, understandably, if you are subject to a series of high stress events one after the other, it can be far more difficult to manage well.
So although personal choice is key, there are many other factors that need to be taken into account to understand your own relationship to stress. It’s not necessarily easy to modulate the stress response, it takes commitment and practice, but it’s very possible.
J: In closing, is there anything you would like us to know about you, your vision, your voice?
S: You might think or sometimes feel it’s impossible to master stress. But the capacity of the mind is incredible.
Here’s one example from the Harvard Medical School News of cutting edge research, which shows how the relaxation response actually impacts the expression of our genes.
“A new study from investigators at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center finds that eliciting the relaxation response—a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing and prayer—produces immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion.”
J: And, one last question that I am asking in all interviews in 2013– Please answer this question: If someone ‘really knew me’, they would know these two things about me:
S: I care. Although my emotional triggers can hook me sometimes, generally speaking, I have a clarity of mind that gives me a larger perspective.
Thank you, Joy!
Thank you, Sandra!
Sandra has generously gifted this site with one session of her E-Course “Living with Ease”. Each reader who leaves a comment addressing the question below will be entered in a drawing. The winner will be randomly chosen Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 9p (PDT). ** Please note: the raffle is now closed. The winner is Heather! Thank you to all who participated!**
Question: How does stress sneak into your life?
Thank you for your presence!
Please note: I am not an affiliate. I truly believe in Sandra’s message. I will also be a student in Sandra’s class. To share my support, I am offering a bonus gift of my Presence to Musings at Sunset ecourse to those who register. To receive this gift, simply email me your confirmation of purchase.
Much peace and abundant love,
Pre-registration for Presence to Possibility in the Gap (with a 20% discount) is open through September 5, 2013.