Holy Days. Spring. Inspiration.
For me, Easter has come to mean new beginnings.
My childhood winters in the US Midwest were long. Once Christmas had past it was mostly just snowy, drizzly, dreary days and long nights. Nearly half the year spent under cloud-cover, seeing your breath when you talk, waking up for school in the cold dark.
Daylight would arrive each morning a little sooner...and a little sooner until one day, like a sunrise blast over the horizon, the entire world felt different.
The world looked different.
Life changed in an instant.
They say that when Jesus came out of the tomb, not all of his friends recognized him at first. He had changed.
That makes sense to me.
Within the span of the three new moon days/nights, Jesus had traversed into the underworld, ascended into heaven, and returned to solid Earth. It stands to reason, things would have been a little different.
Per usual, Jesus provides a model for the Soul Artist who seeks to live their most meaningful life.
Because this has been a year.
In the span of just over 365, we have certainly traversed some new territory. For some it was a deep-dive into the underworld–the "Dark Night of the Soul." Others found illumination of their shadows. There have been challenges to be certain, and hardship provides opportunity for transformation.
What about you? How have you changed?
Do you feel yourself cycling through into something new?
Today, I remember my favorite childhood Easter dress. I remember styling my hair and polishing my shoes and stepping into the church pew to hear the Sunday sermon.
There was excitement in the air.
After the service (and oh! the singing) the children were ushered out into the warm and radiant sunshine for an egg hunt on the lawn. I was bigger then. I followed behind the smaller ones. Something new was stirring.
As I walked the perimeter of the church yard, I spotted a little nest nestled beneath a tree. It was crooked and disheveled as if it had fallen from the branches. But there were three tiny eggs inside. I sat down to get a closer look.
It was a Soul Artist moment.
On the soft cool ground, under the brilliant blast of the Easter sun, I had a new understanding about the cycles of change (samsara in Sanskrit). It is all happening. Seasons. Moons. Days. Years. Thoughts. Life.
...and it is always coldest, darkest just before the dawn.
It was something like that, anyway, elusive and curiously peaceful as I sat awestruck with wonder beside that little broken nest. Birds sang everywhere above me. The breeze blew the style out of my curls. And the sun was there.
I let the littler ones look for the Easter eggs. I had already discovered mine.
Walking back to find my mother I felt like I had grown.
I wondered if she would recognize me.
Imagine the world before electricity. I bet you'd tend your fire carefully. Make it last through the cold, dark night.
...And then comes dawn. Every morning is like a victory–the triumph of the light.
That is why Indian holy days, like Diwali. celebrate the light.
That is why Indian mantras, like Gayatri, invoke and worship the light as a divine power.
In yoga, I honor the "dawning of awareness" as the power of illumination which awakens, heals, and provides clear vision.
But the light does not always come easy. Let me explain with a story:
Once upon a time my husband and I were arguing. It was heated. Now, I can't even remember what it was about. But at the time I was quite certain–I had no doubt–that I was "RIGHT!"
He disagreed. He presented his case, but I doubled down on my point of view, again and again. I wanted him to realize (and admit) that I was "RIGHT!"
Then something happened. Mid-sentence. It hit me like a floodlight: "Oh, shit. He is right...
Daaaang! I felt just like Wile E. Cayote when he looks down from his full-throttle pace to realize that there is nothing beneath him but empty space and a long, hard fall.
We celebrate the light as if it is always welcome. As if we are in a state of perpetual curiosity, always ready to expand and embrace personal development.
But sometimes we're not.
Sometimes we think we already have the answer. We already know. We are "RIGHT!"...and nothing will change our minds. Then the light of awareness "dawns" on us illuminating our flaws. It isn't comfortable. Sometimes, truth be told, we wish we could stay in the dark.
Our practice often determines what happens next.
Yoga provides the courage and compassion to face, and embrace, the light.
So back to that one time, when I was wrong:
I took a deep breath, mustered up the humility and said, "Wait. I'm just realizing that you are right. I am wrong. I am sorry."
My husband looked at me, first with surprise, then tenderness. "Yeah," he said. "I love you."
I had braced myself for impact, but it turned out to be a super soft landing. Blissful in fact.
Because in that moment, I realized that being wrong gives me the opportunity to experience his unconditional Love. If I were always "RIGHT," I would never feel the sweet sensation of forgiveness.
When I embrace my imperfection it becomes a radiant gift.
I am human, and growing. I wouldn't want it any other way.
Inspired by the words of Leonard Cohen: The cracks are where the light gets in.
That realization has been, for me, like the break of a glorious new day.
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day from R.R. Shakti, PhD.
What exactly are we celebrating?
Someone who stood up for what is right?
Someone who brought social change?
A Disruptive Leader?
YES! and more.
For me today, MLK represents being able to answer the question "Why?" ...as in, "Why do I do what I do?"
Today I am finally STARTING to feel settled into our new home. We moved the first part of November, then cruised over to Indiana to offer the latest EARTH Module. December brought the busy holiday season. Now, half-way through January, I am looking around and thinking...
Where am I? What am I doing? And most importantly...WHY?
These questions are like a little reboot for the hard-drive.
Because I am tired.
...and realizing the deep, deep sacrifice it takes to do this PhD thing.
It's crazy! I have been in school for so long now, that I don't even remember what it's like to NOT be in school. Really.
Don't get me wrong, I feel grateful—blessed and excited—like Cinderella at the ball—to be working on (what is to me) one of the most valuable topics; to have had access to such brilliant minds—professors who have supported my ideas—and to literally feel mySelf expand deeper, higher and all around, on every level. What a gift!!
But when my 3-year old daughter looks outside at the sunshine and says, "Mom, let's go outside and play!" and I—instead of jumping up and saying, "YES!!"—Instead of grabbing our coats and our snow-shoes and heading straight for the door—I hesitate....
What has to be sacrificed to fit it all in:
A clean home?
A social life?
...Outdoor play with my quickly growing/changing only child?
Because lately it seems like every day, something has to give. Lately it seems like the sacrifice is just too great, and I find myself on a tightrope, juggling all my most precious things.
So this is when I ask myself, WHY AM I DOING THIS, ANYWAY!!?
And then I remember: I HAVE A DREAM!
I believe that we don't HAVE energy, but we ARE energy.
I believe that energy is ultimately LOVE; which means that our true nature is infinite LOVE.
I believe that our yoga is not something we do, but something that we dare to LIVE every single day of our lives
I believe that we each have an authentic and truly amazing dream of reminding each other of our true nature as infinite LOVE.
...and that when we are empowered to remember ourselves and remind each other, the impact on this world is transformational and real.
And I have a dream that if I stand firm in my dream—if I stay the course with honesty, humility and authenticity—you will stand firm in your dream too. Then we learn and grow together in LOVE.
So, I close my eyes and take a breath.
I breathe in.
I breathe out.
I grab my coat, my boots, and hat...and all of Marley's things too.
I step out into the sunshine with my daughter.
I breathe in.
I breathe out, as I walk this high wire, juggling...adjusting and readjusting to keep my balance, one moment at a time.
Every day, something has to give. But for this moment I am infinite, and my most precious thing is LOVE.
...and that is why I do what I do.
What is your dream?
About The Author
R.R. Shakti, PhD
Founding teacher of Inner Power Yoga®, Shakti is a Contemplative Mythologist, ritual facilitator, and writer who presents a Tantrik approach to personal empowerment and social action. Through contemplative story-telling and mind/body practices, she offers a vision of deep peace and radical freedom.
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