More than a half a decade ago, SARA BLACK decided to go on a journey to find real happiness, peace, and deeper love. Today, she is leading others to do the same as a meditation and energy coach
Years ago, Sara Black was a fulltime photographer, working in a starkly different industry filled with celebrities and cameras. Today, she finds herself living a decidedly slower, more contemplative life as a meditation and energy coach.
“I can’t really identify one monumental shift, it really happened gradually over time,” Black admits. A couple of health scares—breast cancer, which turned out benign, and a multiple hip fracture from triathlon training—allowed her to realize that she was living a life in disharmony and imbalance. “And that provoked me to go seeking for peace, true joy and a deeper experience of love.”
GUIDE FROM BEYOND
That search led her to Rishikesh, at the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India, a year after her triathlon accident. Black frequented the city, considered to be the birthplace of yoga, studying under Anand Merohtra at Sattva Yoga Academy since 2017.
“I was making yearly trips, which were put on pause with the pandemic. I'm still continuing to learn with him online,” she says. “Always a student, it never really stops! There is still so much of the inner terrain to explore. I can’t lead people to that space if I haven’t been there myself.”
As a teacher, Black considers Merohtra as her mentor, adding that the practices he shares helps lead you to a space where you have a deep experience of your inner light.
“You won’t ever forget it once you’ve tasted it,” she shares. “There is a Verse from Rumi: ‘Be grateful for whoever comes because each has been sent as a guide from Beyond.’ In that sense everyone is a teacher.”
Now, however, Black says that her greatest teacher is her daughter Feliz, who was born just a couple of months ago. “She is pointing out to me the spaces where I could be a better human being,” she says.
SETTLING INTO MOTHERHOOD
Black says she has been journeying all her life to arrive to the space of becoming a mother. “How do I describe a lifetime,” she jokingly answers when asked to describe the voyage.
Each moment of our lives is leading up to the next, she teaches. “I'll just say very briefly a journey from asleep to awake, from being mindlessly in the matrix to mindful, conscious living,” Black says. “Thinking of then making real all the facets where I can be a better human being. Not there yet but it's a work in progress, I am on the way.”
Every time she went to India, Black says she would begin by setting an intention of unconditional love. She then would come home just bursting with an even more profound experience of it. “This year I didn't make a trip to India, but I set the same intention and my daughter has been leading me deeper into that space every day,” she says.
Caring for a newborn can be quite challenging to say the least, filled with sleepless nights. “Some nights I feel like I'm at the end of my rope,” Black says, “but the following morning she wakes up and smiles and wow its true my heart just bursts and everything is restored.”
What dreams does she have for her child, we ask. “Feliz can be whatever she wants,” she answers. “It’s not up to me to dream for her, just to hold her hand as she makes her way to where she needs to go.”
DESIRE TO LEARN
Guidance is, of course, part of her current practice. This is clearly seen in Live Awake, a loose term Black coined to identify the community that formed over her sharing of the yogic practices she learned.
“All of my students or anyone who has joined my classes is part of this,” she says. “There are students that have taken deep dives with me on retreat, students who have been studying with me for years, then those who will pop in every now and then when they need a ‘refill,’ then there are students who are just curious seeking a one of experience.”
All of them are part of Live Awake, which started when Black first got back from India in 2017. “It’s just been growing at its own pace with every session, class, offering, coaching, retreat I’ve done,” she shares. “I don't really identify any struggle or challenge here; the teachings will just flow and have been flowing the way they were meant to. When people want to learn, they will come.”
The coach admits to enjoying delivering retreats as it gives her students the opportunity to go deep. She sees the radical shift that has happened to them through the experience, the way they grow in their exploration of self, and she says she is filled with joy with what she witnesses.
“I also deeply enjoy the one on one coaching I do because the changes that happen in each student are very real, such a privilege for me to witness their transformation and help support them into blooming into the human they want to be,” Black says.
Looking into the self has been a theme for Black even in her former profession.
“My take on beauty has always been beyond the topical,” she says. “That really showed in my style of portraiture: my goal was always to elicit the essential in the people I would photograph.”
Black explains that we experience beauty as simple yet profound. “Now it's still the same for me but I would add there is an energetic quality to our experience of beauty. When were in the presence of someone who's beautiful inside and out we don’t just identify qualities on the inside but we feel that lightness of being, the peace, the harmony, the lovingness,” she describes.
She still takes photos when she can, especially back when travel was still permitted. “While I was pregnant I started painting again, simple things like leaves in watercolor,” Black shares, adding that she posted it in her Instagram. “So therapeutic. I painted a wall mural for my daughters nursery while waiting for her to arrive.”
As for her own beauty and wellness routine, Black says that the kind of yoga she practices is highly integrated.
“That’s why it’s such an intelligent form of practice,” she says, listing Pranayama (or breathwork), Meditation, Mantra, Kriya, and movement. “I work on my physical body, my energetic body, access my inner landscape all at the same time. Keeps me fit, agile and strong. Leaves my skin glowing and my aura radiant. It settles my mind into calm and gives me a deeper access to my intuition.”
Change, as Black mentioned, can be gradual, a series of tiny decisions. What one small thing we can do every day that can make a world of difference in their lives?
“Meditate. Connect to source in silence. Let all boundaries dissolve and access that space where all is one,” she says.
It’s an understatement to say that the past year has been challenging for everyone. What does Black think is the first step to finding your center in the middle of all this chaos? “Pause and come into silence. All the answers you seek lie there,” she answers simply.
She says that the pandemic allowed her to get into the flow of her practice, as if her years of study were leading to this time.
“It became really relevant for me to teach meditation. Throughout the pandemic I've guided thousands of people through meditations online,” Black shares, adding she taught corporate classes to help people cope with their stress. These included companies like Unilever, Lufthansa, Royal Carribean, Solaire, ADB, Century Properties, and Maxicare. “I'm feeling really in my purpose,” she says.
Is she looking forward to anything after the pandemic? “It is what it is and each moment leads us to the next,” Black says, emphasizing an earlier lesson. “So whatever experience is meant for us will arrive when it arrives. Your current state of being attracts more of the same. So to be at ease now means more peace coming our way. To be kind today means more love coming our way. More of the same then, a greater experience of peace and love.”
Achieving peace remains an abstract, seemingly unattainable for many of us. In her practice, Black constantly talks of the need to deal with our own egos.
“All we really need is to have an experience where we realize we aren't separate from anything else. All is one,” she teaches. “And then refining this unity consciousness so that it flows into all your thoughts and actions.”
Love is the easiest way, Black explains, and is the most potent energy we will experience in our lives. “When we learn to drop all our walls, unlearn all the conditioning that has made us hard, and just allow unconditional love to flow through us, we find we arrive at that state of peace with more and more ease,” she says, and repeats: “All is one, rest in that.”
That oneness, she says, is the most important lesson that society needs to learn.
“When we do a disservice to others, we hurt ourselves. The world operates on a me mentality and until we can shift to a we mentality there will always be inequality, violence, isolation,” Black teaches. “Love cures it all.”