Category Archives: Meditation

Balance: Heaven on earth

Earlier this week we celebrated a time of balance, the moment in which the earth is midway on her path between solstices. Even the word equinox, equal night, denotes balance.

The precise time of the spring equinox was 11:14 pm where I live, so I didn’t mark it with much fanfare. However, 10 hours later, a friend from yoga class accompanied me to a local labyrinth on a hill.

I walked a labyrinth years ago on the autumnal equinox. I am lured to labyrinths as a walking meditation. With a winding path, you don’t really know how long the journey is or how you’ll get to where you’re going. You know only that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will experience it all. The labyrinth itself leads you through and you don’t have to make any decisions other than to move forward (unlike with a maze).

As I walk I find myself wanting to look ahead to the next turn. Each time I gently bring my mind back to the one step I’m on. I find balance everywhere. I’m certain, though I haven’t counted, that the number of left turns is equal to the number of right turns. Some the time I’m walking the inside of the labyrinth and some the time I’m walking the outside of it. I am alternatively inhaling and exhaling. The earth and I are in this exquisite and fleeting moment of balance.

And I am aware of it.

The morning is chilly, about 40 degrees (4° C). Still, I remove one of my jackets and take a perch at the center of the labyrinth on a tree stump. I decide to offer up tree pose with half lotus. Nothing too difficult, but fitting in with the morning’s theme of balance and calm. My friend snaps a photo.

vrksasana

I was surprised later when I saw this photo by the joy on my face. I thought at the instant my friend clicked the shutter that I was fighting amid the shivers  to stay balanced on the stump. But clearly I was in heaven. Rooted yet rising.

Did you do anything special to usher in spring? (Or, for my southern hemisphere friends, autumn?)

Gratitude? Gratitude.

My yoga teacher, Jane, harps and harps on gratitude. Got something good going on? Show gratitude! Got something bad going on? Show gratitude! And she’s always trying to open our hips because “open hips = happy heart.” And a happy heart is a grateful one.

One day, after a very stretchy sequence to eke open our hips more! more! more!, Jane closed our practice with this quote during savasana:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. — Melody Beattie

I practically wept on the mat.

My journey thus far flashed before my eyes.  My empty arms and longing heart gave way to my fantastically full home — basketballs, extra laundry, teddy bears and the two children who leave those things all over. My very dark days where I nearly lost the will to live were juxtaposed with the brilliant light I found in the infertility blogging community. My sickly, failure of a body has evolved into something I love, both in the way it looks and all it can do. Even the recent chaos presented to me is balanced by the calm stillness I find when I draw in my attention solely to  the space on my mat.

In my mind’s eye were a thousand tao symbols, each one symbolizing duality joining into unity.

  • Day + night = a day.
  • Good + evil = a human.
  • Broken + forgiveness = wholeness.
  • Infertile + superfertile  = open adoption.
  • Self-loathing + self love = me.

It was bliss. And I was grateful, for every single thread in the tapestry that is my life.

All of me

I wait in the clearing for them to join me. It is my celebration, after all.

The sun is shining, bathing the lea in a warm glow. There is an entire meadow of soft greenery for us to dig our toes into. Nothing sharp, nothing dangerous, nothing to mar our time together. There is just the slightest breeze. The sky is the most pleasant timeless blue imaginable.

The first to arrive is a girl about 8 years old. Her skin has a sage tint, the downshot of difficulties in breathing. She brings me worms, leftover from when she gathered a bunch for her sister’s birthday. For some reason she thought worms would make a good gift. She is a bundle of fears, although she is well-fed and well-loved. I just want to hold her while she breathes. I want to breathe for her.

Soon, the 17-year old comes upon us, all arms and legs and attitude. She is skittish, like a colt, just waiting to be hurt. It’s because Doug, her boyfriend, has just dumped her for the 4th time. Well, they’ve broken up 4 times, but she was the dumper at least once. I think about telling her there will be many more heartbreaks, and that she’ll have ample opportunity to be on both ends of them. Each one hurts, but when it’s all said and done, she’ll be thankful that she and Doug (and the many that follow him) parted. I’d tell her, but she wouldn’t believe me. She hands me her diary, the one she just started and intends to keep for the rest of her life.

The next young woman arrives in a black gown and mortarboard and with a gold cord dangling from collar to waist. You can feel the promise that fills her. She looks both ready to tackle and tame the world and also petrified of taking her next step. She will face rejection after rejection before she comes on a job with a meager paycheck that will fulfill her emotional, if not monetary, needs. She is planning a wedding, but is having thoughts of calling the whole thing off. The burden of this thought weighs down her shoulders. I whisper to her, “listen to your gut.” She looks at me hopefully and shows me the keys to her first apartment. Where she will live alone.

A very sad woman enters our circle. She’s in her 30s and she’s been crying, crying, crying. The losses she has endured have sucked the very life out of her. She has beautiful, glorious child-bearing hips, which are going to waste. Her dreams have evaporated. She feels alone (although, still well-loved) and without hope. We instinctively move toward her, trying to sense if she will allow us to comfort her. I barely recognize this woman — the toll has been so drastic. Can’t she see that this chapter, like all the others before, will end? Her hands hold only tissues full of tears.

The next woman to grace the clearing has graying hair, still long like I knew she would. She is weary — after all, she is raising teenagers. The one knows how to trip all her wires and the other is just growing up and away too quickly. She has a peace about her…the peace that comes from repeatedly being shown that this, too, shall pass. Her eyes pierce through me, chiding me for my petty complaints about the drains of childrearing. She has brought me a watch — one that ticks twice as fast as normal.

We turn to receive our final guest. She walks toward the west and is a few inches shorter than the rest of us grown women –still a head taller than the child. She is white-gray in hair, fissured of skin, and her eyes and lips have lost several shades of their original vibrancy. For all her physical feebleness, the corners of her mouth are upturned. Her eyes are kind, and she exudes patience. Like the sky above us, there is something timeless about her. She extends only her trembling hand, representative of the enduring body that houses her immortal spirit.

These are my Selves. They have come to honor the fact that I have been on the planet for another turn around the sun. They bring me their tokens and dreams and insights. I envelope them and am enveloped by them. One by one, I welcome each into my heart, accepting the gifts they have brought. I acknowledge the gift she is, she is, she is, she is, she is, she is.

I am.

Image: Vic-Art

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