Sarah Cavrak

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Sarah Cavrak, in the first of our Wild About Women series.

I met Sarah back in June, when she was a teacher at Om Puerto Viejo Yoga Studio in Costa Rica. Sarah offers up a fiery practice alongside a clear knowledge of alignment, a grounded voice and real attention to the moment. She carries her passion and sweet nature with her off the mat.
Sarah has a PhD in Cognitive Sciences and her research has been published in several high impact journals, including: Applied Cognitive Psychology, Memory & Cognition, and the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion.
In July, Sarah took part in our ‘Weaving the Passion’ 6 day immersion and came to assist our weekly womens circles in Costa Rica. I was grateful for this opportunity and time to connect in depth, and learn more of her intelligent wisdom and knowledge of bees as a former beekeeper.
I hope you enjoy reading her open, expressive and beautiful words as much I did.

Sarah, thank you for taking the time to take part in our Wild About Women series!

Can you share how do you practice connection to:


other women?

Currently, I think I practice it mostly through food and conversation.  Conversation is inevitably part of the connection.  Women love to talk, to chat, to gab, and what a lovely art that conversation can be.  When I was younger I remember thinking that I wanted to find a job where all I did all day was talk to people because I’m a natural conversationalist and always have been.  In truth, I’m not entirely prone to chatting about the mundane, but instead seem to gravitate my language to that which draws out an emotion in another.  I don’t even do it on purpose – it just seems to be what emerges from me.  Implicitly, I’m always trying to discern what the point of connection will be, what is on the other person’s heart and how this interaction will draw that out of their heart and into the moment shared between us.

Food tends to enter this equation ever so naturally.  Sometimes it’s just a cup of coffee or tea before work or tucked in between the rest of the busy day’s activities.  Other times the food becomes an event because my friends and I love to eat; dining out, cooking in, it doesn’t matter.  We love talking about eating, planning out dishes to try, heading to the store to acquire the ingredients to cook together.  Then we create.  The creation recipe always includes a little music, a lot of laughter, some chopping and stirring, occasional dancing, and inevitably more talking.  We then nourish ourselves and each other as we audibly “mmm mmm mmmm” our masterpiece.  We praise each other, eat second helpings, and don’t for one moment feel guilty about it.  We fill our bellies alongside our souls with the connections we’ve made in reciprocal collaboration with each other.


nature/ the wild?

Ooh, I love this question, because my favorite, favorite, favorite way to connect with nature is to walk around in bare feet.  I adore not wearing shoes. They truly feel like foot prisons to me most times.  I love the feel of the earth below me; whether it’s grass or sand or dipping my toes in a pond while sitting perched up on a river rock; it doesn’t matter, I just love it all.  When I do this I know I can feel the heartbeat of the earth below me, and this gives me stability because I feel a greater life force within me.  These two things are foundational for me to access the Wild Woman who I know I came from, who is still in me, and who I want to continue to move more deeply into.


your own feminine spirit?

I’ll partially echo my sentiment from the previous question which it to say that when I’m in nature with my bare feet on the ground I feel more connected to the wild feminine spirit.  But I also feel her with I move my body – when I dance, practice yoga, embrace a friend, make love, twirl the curls of my hair with my fingers; Any body movement makes me feel like the lovely goddess creature I am; Singing, cooking, adorning myself in oils, jewelry, fabrics – I love it all; The feel when my eyes soften and the moment I realize this is happening; When I let things, opportunities, people, experiences naturally come to me rather than me seeking them out.


the masculine?

When I see myself engaging in more doing than being; more seeking than receiving; more analytical than intuitive.


Can you share your tools, practices and what it means for you to:

 

find presence in the moment?
The first thing that comes to mind is by focusing on my breath.  It always comes back to the breath for me.  Sometimes I literally need to place my hands on my belly or over my heart in order to feel it and connect with that life force that moves in and out of me. Finding presence often just means moving my body around; light stretching, going on a walk, moving on my yoga mat, dancing in my kitchen.  If I’m with another person, presence often means looking them in the eyes to stay connected, to really see the light that it is there, and listen to their words with my heart.


meditate with the senses?

This is a tougher one to answer and perhaps one I need more practice in, or rather more attention to when I’m actually experiencing this.  I feel like the most aware I am of this is when I eat delicious food; not just the quick lunch I heat up in between appointments, but the meals where I’ve planned the ingredients, layered the flavors, coupled it with friends or family, paired it with a glass of wine or a delicately selected cup of tea.  Each bite of these meals is a full sensory experience, from the taste to the smells, to the sounds of ‘mmm’ and the clinking of forks on plates, or the feel of the food in my hands, and of course how it visually looks.  In these ways it’s nourishment for the entirely of our perceptive fields.


Listen with intention?

I seem to only be able to do this when I tell my brain it’s okay to turn off; that it’s okay not to worry about what I’m going to say next so that my response is thoughtful and intelligent.  If I can accept and trust that the right words will come at the right time, then I can just listen.  I can hear the words spoken, and I can then hear the emotion between the words.  This is a practice just like everything else.  Some days I’m totally tapped in and other days I can’t seem to get my head out of my to-do list.  I just notice when I’m doing this, take a deep breath, and say “be here now.”  Then I smile at myself, and tap back into the moment.



to participate in life?

The biggest thing for me here is to notice when I’m disconnecting.  Sometimes those moments of disconnection are unintentional based on habit, and when I’m looking at my phone or distracted by computer.  Other times I actually truly want to disconnect, and so I have to notice and honor those moments.  I ask myself, “Why do I want to disconnect?  Am I tired?  Do I want to be in my head for a little while?  Why?”  If the disconnection is in fact intentional, then usually it means I need some personal writing or reflective time, and so I take it.  If I’m unintentionally disconnecting (i.e., via media), then I disconnect from the thing disconnecting me so that I can reconnect.

I also really like the wording of this question, to “participate” in “life.”  Participate = co-creation –  it requires involvement, otherwise are you really participating?  If not, then you’re just floating through each day, and although floating can be relaxing it is also not really fulfilling.  Who likes it when they’re just sitting on the sidelines of a game they love?  We usually want to get in the game.  You know, I hear the little kid in me going , “come on, put me in coach!”  There are infinite opportunities to get into the game, so to speak.  Much of my participation is noticing when I’m sitting on the bench and not caring if I’m sitting on the bench versus the times I’m on the bench but want to be in the game.



celebrate as women?

Wow, this question is really energizing to me because this is most recently coming through in my intentions to lead women’s circles.  I am currently in a training process to be a new moon circle leader through the WILD Woman Project.  I am feeling more and more connected to the women who came before me, to my female ancestors, and not just familiar but collectively as women on this earth.  Some sisters I hear speak feel strongly connected to the witches, the mothers, or the priestesses, but for me I feel connected to the warriors, the fighters, and the revolutionaries.  They have been coming to me in meditation, and revealing to me their strength.  Consequently, they are revealing to me my strength by virtue of our feminine lineage.  We women are powerful beings.  There is no denying so instead I celebrate.


Raise one another higher?

Perhaps the easiest way I do this is just by believing in people.  We are all equally amazing, special, broken, equally challenged by life, but equally powerful in our vulnerabilities.  I think there’s an epidemic of running away from one another when relationships get difficult; when others do things we didn’t expect them to do.  And when this happens we feel like we’ve been lied to or duped by the other person which in my experience (and is my belief that this) stems from being or feeling victimized by another.  However, if we step away from our past or our perceptions and fears of others’ motivations, and if we instead believe that others are inherently good, we can maintain a presence in others lives even when they mess up.  We can then say, “you’re worthy, wonderful, and beautiful, even if you haven’t lived up to your expectations for yourself, because I believe in you.”  So, in this way, I think we bring unconditional love, and that can only raise each other up.


 

Can you share how you set intentions for yourself and others to:


hold space for open conversation?

I think probably the biggest thing to encouraging open conversation is by letting people know it’s safe to share.  That they’re not going to get verbally criticized in response to their shared words or become forced to prove themselves or their opinions.  Listening with open heart, and trying to hear the message or emotion between the words, is crucial.  Realizing that most people just want to be seen and heard authentically immediately disables any type of positive or negative reactionary response in me, which then allows me to just be present and listen with genuine engagement.


integrate wisdom and practice guidance?

I’m not sure I knowingly set intentions for this, or perhaps just not using these words, but I think the practice that encourages both of these things is to  s l o w  d o w n.  Having been raised in the United States where the pace of life is quick, and where “more,” “bigger,” “faster,” is a cultural norm, it’s easy to get swept into this tornado of productivity-oriented lifestyle which cares little for thoughtful reflection, discernment, and patience.  So for me, I have to sit with things for a little while.  I need to pray or meditate on it, write a journal entry or two, check in with my body about it.  All these things take time; sometimes a few days, perhaps longer depending on the importance of the thing I need guidance about.

I also think it can be of huge benefit to also have a trusted person as a sounding board when wisdom is needed.  Someone whom you know has your best interests at heart, who will be lovingly honest, and who has created that same type of safe space for authentic sharing that you try to create for others.



incite radical self-love?

I’m really big on verbal affirmations.  So I daily tell myself something loving.   Not all days are the same, but I always affirm a quality in myself that I want to feel or be.  I tell myself that I am that thing even if I don’t really feel it in that moment.

Another way I love on myself is to set healthy boundaries in my relationships.  These relationships can be with friends, family, lovers, and even my relationship with consumption (of media, food, distraction).  The more I recognize my needs and limits, discover a boundary, and then communicate that boundary, I’m doing one of the most loving things for myself, because it is a demonstration to myself about how much love I have for me.  It also teachers others how to treat me because it’s how I treat myself.  Consequently, it’s how I treat others.  If I want them to respect me, then I must respect them when they vocalize their needs and boundaries.



empower confidence + passion for living?

I’m really big into journaling. So one way that I can revive my confidence and my passion if it’s started to slip into the dark zone is to go back to old journal entries from months (even years) past, and read the types of things I was going through, the kinds of goals I was setting, and noticing how much growth and progress has been made since that time.  I keeps me grounded in the fact that lasting change and positive progress take time, but that even if in the moment it feels like I’ve lost my way, small shifts are always occurring that are taking me toward the goals I’ve set.

Backing up a little bit though, I have to have set some goals for myself before I can notice the progress towards them.  So to begin this process I always ask myself what it is that I want to feel, and then see if I can align a tangible goal with that feeling.  Otherwise I might end up six steps toward a physical goal that might not get me to that feeling which is the true motivation for my wanting to make a change or set off in a new direction.


foster support, be co-creative, build community?

Being really open to discussion, and being open to the discussion not going in the direction you thought it was going to (or hoped it would) go.  In this way, you are truly being co-creative with others.  Being honest with yourself about what you want your role to be; as leader, or as equal participant therefore leading to true and equal collaboration.  Being willing to both give and receive, whether in terms of affection, words of encouragement, money, etc.  You have to be willing to fully engage in those relationships which means allowing others to support you as you likewise support them.


Can you share and tell us all about your up-coming retreat?

Well, actually, the details on this are changing slightly from how I had originally planned then.  And so this might be a big example of lots of the things I’ve just talked about – things not going as you’ve planned, letting life guide you, and so on.  My intention is to facilitate an all women’s yoga and meditation retreat although the timing and location may be shifting slightly.  This retreat will be a time where we create safe space for one another, where we are present for discussion, build community, slow down, celebrate ourselves and each other, recognize patterns and set boundaries, and practice radical self-care.  Myself and a small group of women will be join together in a shared space to practice yoga (twice every day), meditate (every morning), set intentions, celebrate the New Moon, engage in ritual around the healing and ceremonial plant cacao, and dive deep into our wildest selves.  Formals details currently surfacing.  Aho!

And tell us how we can access you and your work.

WEBSITE: www.sarahcavrak.com
FB: Sarah Cavrak Yoga
IG: @sarahcavrakyoga

 

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