The other day I caught myself having a moment... in fact there were a few of them. These 'moments' were the kind I usually have during or after yoga and meditation, so I guess you could call them 'yoga moments', except they happened off the mat, caught me wildly unawares and left me hanging between worlds; dancing on the cusp of ordinary and... extraordinary.
I noticed a leaf hanging from a spider web... spinning.
I noticed the patterns of moving water and soap bubbles changing colours.
I noticed sunlight though the trees.
All pretty ordinary, right? And yet the experience I had on these occasions felt as if a river was overflowing inside my chest and as her banks burst; a smile bloomed on my lips.
In all cases, in the lead up to 'the moment' I was unaware of the fact my inner and outer landscapes had aligned in total harmony; the object/s of my gaze and my surroundings coupled with an inner state of openness stuck a harmonious chord, which I can only describe as BEAUTY.
These moments got me thinking about Beauty. What is it, really? And how is it that a moment which filled me with such a profound sense of harmony and oneness, was triggered by exquisite aesthetics. Aren't we supposed to remain non-attached to external beauty and practice equanimity.
Is it OK to seek, create and relish in Beauty as a spiritual practice?
I've resolved YES, because beauty, true beauty (I think) is divine. It's Ananda- the bliss state- at work. And what I was experiencing in that moment watching the spinning leaf, the soap bubbles and the sunlight, was not AT ALL about innate aesthetic beauty of objects, it was a reflection of my inner world. Duh! Took me a week to figure that out.
So then, if Ananda - the bliss state- is our true nature and true beauty is in all things, what about those days when I can't find it, when the leaf is just a leaf, the soap is just soap and the sun burns our skin. What happens when the magic of the bliss state subsides, the yoga high wears off, the oxytocin love bombs have been pushed to the back burner, or perhaps even right off the stove?
The human who was so enchanted by a spinning leaf, can she also be OK with the hum of normalcy, plainness and ordinary life. Can I sit with the distinct lack of magic and beauty, without 'trying' to make something happen, without squirming about trying to make the ordinary feel extraordinary? I know it can be done, so why not make it happen again?
As a mum of young children, my life sometimes feels a bit Ground Hog Day-ish, even with two jobs and a pretty dynamic life, I find myself frequently in the trance of trying to make things happen, of DOING rather than BEING.
BEING, can feel totally ordinary sometimes. In my early newborn daze back in June with my second baby, I chose to spend 40 days at home, which was enlightening, nourishing and a practice I would highly recommend to any newborn mother. During this time, there was plenty to do, as you know the newborn feeding-sleeping-pooping cycles are grueling and relentless! Though there were times when I felt... bored. With baby sleeping for hours at a time on my chest, I couldn't really 'do' much, and of course this was the point. I daydreamed, I practiced pranayam, and from time to time my wanting-self emerged... craving... something... an adult conversation, a new position on the couch, a piece of chocolate... anything to break the stillness and ache of boredom.
I realised in these moments that pure BEING is alive and well at the heart of boredom and so if I can lean in to boredom, I'm diving into pure being. BOOM, another revelation.
Being, especially... "BEING ENOUGH" is something I think many of us struggle with. We're in a race to get it all done, floating about in a trace of achievements, checklists and external markets of our self worth based on our DOING. Spending 40 days at home, I became incredibly aware of how often I felt like I should be doing something, that resting, healing and being a mother to my babies was somehow not enough. And yet-- it's everything!
As a side- yet related note, I'm currently taking a course with Tina Fostercalled "Secret Life of the Body: Mudras" experimenting with hasta mudras (Yoga hand positions) as a pathway to deeper understanding of the pranic (energy) body, and I got stuck on one particular mudra: Akash.
Akash (pictured below) is the mudra for ether/space element in the 5 element Ayurvedic system. I had extraordinary difficulty holding this mudra which physiologically seemed within reach, yet my fingers bounced about like magnets repelling, my knuckles jerked and locked. This was so very curious to me, I have spent weeks working with this single mudra whilst meditating on my relationship to S_P_A_C_E. Tina noted as that as a mum of young children, it makes total sense that this element would be out of balance for me.
The birth of a baby leaves the mothers body filled with vata energy: air and space elements, and yet on the outside, she's smothered- there's no personal space, moments on her own are rare and fleeting. This energetic juxtaposition of SPACE elements was very confusing for my body!
As I explore theses themes in my current internal landscape... beauty, boredom and being enough, I'm continually leaning into my relationship with SPACE (yes my work with this mudra is finally FLOWING).
What if I welcomed boredom as a gift of SPACIOUSNESS? What if I really got to know her, and find what makes her tick? What might I find? Truthfully, I hope to transcend her and find my fancy new friend Beauty on the otherside. Except that, in the back of my mind I am also enchanted by the task, the challenge, of diving into ordinariness, simplicity and plain-ness.
Consciously cultivating space in my life is serving as a wonderful reminder that BEING is enough, and as it turns out cruising with the hum-drum slow-flow of ordinary life is often a curious and unexpected pathway to discover the divine beauty of being.