Solstice Musings on Knowing Nothing
“The life essence carries on its play through the pulsing rhythm of outward and inward movement. This is the ceaseless throb, the rhythm of life-terrifying in is eternity, exquisite in its constancy. “ ~Lorin Roche, The Radiance Sutras
To celebrate the solstice is to honor the dance of time, and the cycles of life. This year in particular I am struck by how this dance takes us in and out of beauty and sadness. In and out of joy and confusion. In and out of faith and fear. I find myself humbled once again by the realization that there are cycles that exist in our lives that are so much larger than us, and that despite our goals and intentions there are tides that will sweep us up and carry us away before we know it.
And yet the power of our will and our desire do matter, and can help us to navigate life and work with the tides. Not control them, that we can never do!, but rather to work with them and find steadiness within them. Yoga has been the greatest gift I have been given as it has helped me to do just this. Strengthen my will, harness the power of my desire, and become a more skilful dancer.
But its important that you know that while yoga has offered me greater clarity and personal awareness still there are times where my way forward seems somewhat obscured, and though I know in my heart that I am on the same path it is clear that the path is shifting direction….and I am no longer exactly sure where I am heading.
The Tantric tradition of Kashmir Saivism speaks of this so beautifully with the concept of the five acts of Siva. It is said that Siva’s great dance includes the three fold pulse of sristhi (creation), stitihi (maintenance), and samhara (dissolution), can you think of anything in the natural world that does not take part in this dance?. And yet this teaching also puts forth the idea that there are two other fundamental pulsations that work on our lives, and these are tirobhava, which means concealment, and anugraha, which essentially means revelation or insight. This gives me so much comfort as it reminds me that the cycles of not knowing are an integral part of this dance of life. I have felt myself to be caught in the swirling mists of tirobhava for the last couple years as old forms and relationships have faded, and new ones are slowly coming into being. It has been quite the experience to be practicing putting one foot in front of the other while it feels the path behind me is dissolving and the road in front is anything but clear, and yet I know that I can’t push through it in hastiness or I might miss a vital clue hidden in the fog.
Each year at winter solstice I give myself a full day or more to do quiet practices and contemplate the cycle that is ending. This year I have found myself in a place where I am questioning everything I thought I knew, everything I thought I desired, and every belief that I hold dear. It is not a bad thing, but it is not terribly comfortable either. I find myself sitting here in the dark of winter reflecting backwards in order to see the threads that led me to where I am now, in hopes of seeing the ones that burn brightest with truth and will lead me forward. And in this stillness I am also gazing softly into the future to see what is arising, but resisting the urge to grasp. I am learning that now is not a time for setting goals and pushing forward but rather a time for listening, waiting, and letting what is whispering in my heart come forth in its own time.
When I was younger I spent two years of my life un-plugged from the world in many ways. No telephone, no electricity, no computer!!, not even running water. Each day was filled with simple and very vital tasks that ensured that I would be fed at days end and have a warm place in which to relax. I spent most of my days wrapped in deep forests, listening to waves and rivers talking, walking quiet paths, or touching the earth with my bare hands. Evenings were lit by firelight and lantern. Bedtime was not long after dark and morning came with the dawn. In this time that I carved out of my life I learned how to feel the rhythms of nature in my bones and came to “know” things that nobody had told me. It was this precious time led me to yoga and my own path of healing and recovery, and though it had its challenges and its dramas to be sure I feel blessed that I was able to experience it as it has helped me to relax into change in a way that I might never have been able to without it.
I have no idea what my future looks like at this point in time but I do know one thing for sure- I will only bind myself to that which lights me up deeply and has the capacity to nourish me endlessly. I know that I need to move closer to nature, not closer to culture. I know I need my yoga practice to wake me up to the wildness of life, not take me away from it. I know I need to teach what I believe in, and trust in that. And I know I need the intimacy of true community, one that is diverse and made up of many different people, one in which people are free to hold different points of view without fear of judgment and their unique contribution to the whole is honestly appreciated. This is maybe a lot to ask for but to me these things represent a life of passion, a path of endless learning, and a call to high integrity. And though so much is a mystery to me right now I do know I want that.
So while I celebrate the solstice in my own way this year, and honor the power of these great cycles of which I am part I offer you my solstice blessings on your own journey. My wishes for you are that you will have some time to be still in the silence of your own heart during this sacred time of year. That you will be able to create some space, no matter how small, to reflect back on your own path, the one that stretches behind you, and the one that is guiding you onwards. That you may know with greater certainty that which you are willing to be bound to, and that you will exercise your freedom in choosing the life that you desire. And I pray with all my heart that you will find, and commit to, practices that will bring you back to yourself. Practices that will allow you to feel the vastness of the natural world singing deep within you and the strength that resides at your own core, so that even while the terrifying beauty of life dances you in and out of experience you know yourself to be standing still, in the centre of your own creation.