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Marla Sacks - Watermelon Story

MARLA SACKS

Yoga and Meditation Instructor

It was hot. I was standing in a field of watermelons, wearing khaki shorts, a long sleeve button down and a brimmed hat. Sweat was pouring out of me, and trickling off my sticky skin. I was in Northern Israel, near the Sea of Galilee, living on a Kibbutz, working the land amidst communal families. Historically, an area rooted in boundary battles and controversial territory, where rural turn of the century settlements plowed the soil, literally becoming the bearer of fruits for passionate Israeli communities.

 

So, there I was, lifting watermelons, picking them off the vine, one after the other, over and over again while fighting an internal battle with my inner voice about my duty as a volunteer. It was the summer after my junior year study abroad experience where I had already visited many other countries rich in culture. I had extended my travels by heading to Israel, a homeland I longed to see, a place for more connections. This assigned task in the watermelon field was one of the many jobs (some outside and others such as in the kitchen/laundry or tech rooms were indoors) where I did my part in shared commitment to work 8-hour days, 6 days a week in exchange for room, board, food, and a place to build relationships.

I grew keenly aware of the tasks that needed to be completed by my own two hands.

On this particular day, I felt especially out of sorts. I was shaken up and quite uncomfortable especially being that I’m highly sensitive to the sun from an autoimmune condition. So there, the intense sunlight had me longing for shade and I was incredibly thirsty too. I truly wanted to take refuge from this unbearable, unrelenting heat. Every so often, I stumbled upon the flesh of watermelons that had sporadically splat open, leaving me salivating for the vibrant pink juice. The rays continued to pulsate through the core of my being, beating on my body. My allergies (another sign of autoimmune issues) were in an uproar from the unfamiliar climate and stirred-up dust that the tractors and wheelbarrows left behind. I was at my worst and felt physically depleted, weakened and somewhat ill. Yet still, one by one, I worked hard and independently with each lift of the dirty watermelons. I couldn’t believe how much I was sweating. I grew keenly aware of the tasks that needed to be completed by my own two hands. I had a job to finish as a member of the kibbutz volunteers, all of us meeting from different cultures from around the globe. This was the role of kibbutz living.

For me the courage of laboring under the sun, diving into nature and working together with people helped to lift my spirits. Simultaneously, there was even a magical moment created by this experience of being one with the earth and all of its amazing richness. I continued to place each watermelon at the end of the row, formed piles, and later assisted in lifting them up again onto flatbed trucks for others to drive away.

In being part of an ecological system with all of its mystical energy of planets and mother earth games, I was uncomfortable and longed for my family and friends back home in the U.S.A. Especially my parents. My father was out of work and preparing for an antisemitism case against a large pharmaceutical company. I sensed that my labor-intensive work on this particular day was contributing to a bigger picture. I felt connected to the labor of my family, fighting for my father’s rights, with the labor I was doing thousands of miles away. Our commonality, our connected bond flooded through my mind. If only for a brief moment, this struggle of my own helped me feel closer to my parents.

Before I went to the Kibbutz, I’d traveled all across Europe and constantly felt included. And those travels taught me something about of our humanity. Ignorance and tainted perceptions about other people’s cultures by labeling and categorizing them limit our perspective and serves no purpose. In Israel, many families opened their doors to me and on the kibbutz, they invited all of us foreigners into their homes for another taste of their day-to-day living.

When in Greece, I felt Greek. In Ireland, Irish, In Italy, I was Italian.

Whether on a train or at a local cafe, the people of each country included me as if I were a neighbor, a friend, one of their own nationality and race. The moments from my youth lead me to savor the process of bringing people together to recognize that there is beauty in life and in every being, every step of the way no matter the challenge. Seek the light in all of the magnificence, calamities and differences of the day. As we experience in yoga, our breath invites us to explore the vibrant energies that live inside of our hearts and unites us together in a joint purpose.

Marla Sacks Yoga - Machupichu

We’re all seeking clarity and joy through our actions and intentions.

Breaking down the barriers of interpersonal relationships as a way to notice the “Sameness” in all of us. When someone’s on a mat in my class, it doesn’t matter where they’re from. They’re human. Moving through the postures, doing the best they can in their own practice of finding ways to be more flexible in how we perceive and relate to others. Reflecting back on that moment of picking watermelons in Israel and then living in harmony with shared vocations was a culmination of it all. There was incredible insight into sameness of meeting so many people. Noticing how every job and every person served a purpose in the Kibbutz underscored that for me{ through the sifted soil as a means to merge communities together onto a neutral playing field, that doesn’t separate based on color, religion or race.}

These experiences brought me inwards, and at the same time, to a deeper connection with humanity. When I came home from this journey of a lifetime, my second semester of junior year abroad, I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I graduated with a business degree in Marketing and felt challenged by my purpose. One thing I understood for sure was that I wanted to find love and be financially secure no matter what. I worked as a sales assistant in an art gallery to start to tap into the creativeness that was cooped up and channeled inside of me so that one day I could open a service-oriented business fully that wouldn’t be governed by anyone else but the honest, kindhearted fully committed me.

There I stood, long ago, in the grassy brown fields of a sacred land, when my immune system was crashing, the dichotomy of it all was that I felt safe, accepted and committed to a higher source of energetic living by this action-oriented position. I discovered a humanness in the bond of building healthy relationships with lots of different people.

On many levels, the communal service as a whole guided my compass forward with perseverance to breakthrough and set myself free. It has carried me through and continues nowadays. Whether I’m combating internal inflammatory markers and stressors in my body, my outward expression remains peaceful and calm, and propels me to unravel further so I can share my story to let others know you’re not alone.

Take Action, Bliss & Clarity...

Marla Sacks Yoga - Prayer Hands

The toxicity of the environment or internal dialogue of self-sabotage and lack of self-worth, I know this route, I feel your aches and pain. No matter the issues we face, each being has their individual uniqueness that’s meant to be of service. You were born to be a vessel of peace in the midst of commotion and emotion. No one can ever take that divine intention away.

As a yogi whisperer, I bring silence to my voice and open my ears so that you have my undivided attention. I’m here with a purpose to say I know what it feels like to be crushed with humiliation, and to be in physical and emotional pain. There's no coincidence that "Conscious Connections" manifest in a variety of ways. Take Action, Bliss & Clarity and make a commitment to set an intentional priority to be a part of the change for human equality.

I wasn’t always aware of how to fuel my own energy to a fuller extent, and at times I only looked outside myself, to a materialistic world. As I’ve grown spiritually grounded, I now strive to make a difference by helping others relax, lead a simpler, yet enriched, life. My most precious family continues to expand as I extend my heart to welcome in each of you.

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