Finding Balance in Extreme Times
Fall is a time of opposites; depending on where you live, the temperatures can fluctuate from the low 20s to the high 60s, wildly swinging back and forth between summer-like evenings and dusting the hills with the first chilling snows.
The days are shorter and the mornings darker. It's a call to rest, to pull in a bit, to literally and figuratively... fall. I've been turning my inner gaze towards the opposites within myself; me as the extroverted introvert who has cravings for both movement and quiet rest at the same time, and as the eternal optimist standing toe to toe with the sometimes unbearable and horrific news of the raging war over Gaza.
Within myself, I feel that wild swing between the this and that of being a human in these both very blessed and very troubled times.
I know that there is within me a place that is always in balance, and harmony, and is naturally peaceful, and I know that in every situation, regardless of the magnitude, therein lies that jewel of peace, which is the unchangeable and immutable presence that runs itself through everything I know.
I am reminded of the story of Indra's Web, Indra is the early Vedic god who cast a web so large it covered the entire Universe, encompassing all, and at each eye of the web, at each intersection, he placed a stunning jewel. This beautiful web was infinite and ever-expanding. If one were to look closer at a single jewel one would see, on each of its shiny facets, the reflection of all the other jewels held in this great web. And if one were to look even closer not only would one see the reflection of the other jewels held in the web but their reflection too would have reflections of the other jewels; the reflections would be limitless and innumerable.
Each jewel in Indra's web is interconnected to every other. To move, to shift, to deconstruct one jewel would affect the entire web of life. Indra's web teaches us that we cannot live in isolation, we are as Indra's myth implies, deeply and profoundly connected. And so what happens when we find ourselves in this web interconnected with opposites?
In our spiritual practices whether it is Yoga practice, prayer, meditation, or contemplative work we can start with the idea of wholeness; as the web itself. What we know of the web we can know of the jewel. If I know that this web is the structure and substance that holds everything in balance, I can know that it has the intelligence of harmony, it has the wisdom of balance, and it must know through substance that every jewel with every facet has within it the power to reflect harmony and balance. While the jewels are parts of the whole, the whole is all of the parts, and everything that the parts are by nature also whole.
We are both reflecting and reflections of the same Universe. What seems like an opposite is a movement in the web, that pulls and stretches us. As stretching implies it is the path of growth, and sometimes there are growing pains.
I can't possibly conceive of everything held in this infinite web, but I do have choice and agency over how I will reflect the jewels of life around me. Returning my awareness again and again to harmony and balance, to peace, to a place on the spectrum where wholeness can be revealed makes me a reflection and reflector of peace, harmony, and balance.
In times of extreme opposites, we can shift our consciousness, the atmosphere of our thinking to reflect what it is we desire to see in the world.
When we are at a loss and feeling the painful stretch and pull of the web of life, we can trust the web that holds it all.
Mr. Rogers, as he so often did, said it so beautifully:
"Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of that jewel. A facet of that jewel. And in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal." -Fred Rogers
Sitting quietly, take time to explore opposites that may be arising in your experience. It could be in any aspect of your life, work-career, finances, relationships, spirituality, health, play, or creativity. Explore these opposites with the use of the word 'but'.
- I am ____________ but I am __________.
- Build a mental list of opposites and allow them to arise naturally and easily.
- The world is __________but the world is ____________.
- This situation is _______ but this situation is ___________.
Now explore these opposites using the word 'and' instead of 'but'. How does that feel? Does it feel differently in your body or your breath? Can you hold both opposites at once?
- If you could hold these two opposites in your heart at the same time how would that feel?
- What could be released? Anger, judgment, self-righteousness?
- What could be reflected? Compassion, empathy, understanding?
- What would you most like to reflect into the world as you hold your opposites?
Om & Blessings! Kate
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