In the first movement, our infancy as a species, we felt no separation from the natural world around us. Trees, rocks, and plants surrounded us with a living presence as intimate and pulsing as our own bodies. In that primal intimacy, which anthropologists call “participation mystique,” we were as one with our world as a child in the mother’s womb.
Then self-consciousness arose and gave us distance on our world. We needed that distance in order to make decisions and strategies, in order to measure, judge and to monitor our judgments. With the emergence of free-will, the fall out of the Garden of Eden, the second movement began — the lonely and heroic journey of the ego. Nowadays, yearning to reclaim a sense of wholeness, some of us tend to disparage that movement of separation from nature, but it brought us great gains for which we can be grateful. The distanced and observing eye brought us tools of science, and a priceless view of the vast, orderly intricacy of our world. The recognition of our individuality brought us trial by jury and the Bill of Rights.
Now, harvesting these gains, we are ready to return. The third movement begins. Having gained distance and sophistication of perception, we can turn and recognize who we have been all along. Now it can dawn on us: we are our world knowing itself. We can relinquish our separateness. We can come home again — and participate in our world in a richer, more responsible and poignantly beautiful way than before, in our infancy.”
I think I mentioned that we are studying the Bhagavad Gita in Yoga Darsana class. I don’t know enough about it to go into great detail, but the underlying theme, we are told, is dharma, or doing your duty. It’s a rather timely subject and book to be reading right now. Not just for the elements regarding dharma and duty and yoga, but there is something in the beginning, a falling apart, that I think many of us can well relate to during these current and strange times. Rather than get into the details of the Bhagavad Gita, I will tell you that my mind has compared that falling apart of one of the main characters in the Gita to early motherhood, when your child is about three months old and you haven’t had any sleep for three months and your baby is crying in the middle of the night and you’re so, so tired that you think to yourself, “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t.” Yet, you know you must, you can, you will, not just out of duty but out of love (and perhaps love is a type of duty?), and so, you do. But before you do, you have that little breakdown, the little falling apart that comes with doubt. I think most of us have been in that place, in some capacity.
I find myself pondering the subjects of duty/dharma and choices quite a bit lately. Choices have brought us where we are now, whether they were our choices or those of others (and if we allow the choices of others to rule in spite of what we know to be right, isn’t that a choice too?). Choices, in hindsight, are somewhat easy to discern and pick apart. Dharma, on the other hand, feels complicated although I suspect there is a simplicity to it that we cover up with complications. As my yoga teacher puts it, “you do the next right thing.” When I come from a place of calmness, doing the next right thing always feels clearer, simpler. That, it is said, is how you know you are following your dharma. Clarity of thought rather than a mind that is jumping around with explanations, justifications, and false logic.
That’s how the days are going for me. Finding ways towards calmness, then doing the next right thing. The next right thing might be as simple as washing the dishes, doing another load of laundry, cooking a meal, typing up the meeting minutes from our last KSB meeting (ok, I’ve been procrastinating when it comes to that), going for a walk, sitting with one of the cats, or any of the hundreds of things that come up each day.
There are different types of dharma, too, but it all gets so complicated to me. I have noticed that the more I learn, the more I don’t know. Patience is required. I hear things, over and over, in different variations on a theme. Then, one day when I’m not pondering or looking, insight comes, bringing with it more questions.
We woke up to clouds this morning. During a time when the sky usually brightens, the clouds darkened. The rains came. It wasn’t a stormy kind of rain, nor would I call it a gentle rain. It was somewhere in between, and enough for a good soaking. When I went out for a walk after the rain moved through, the air was scented with the perfume of flowers and wet earth. I met up with Beethoven who has been singing his heart out lately, running through his repertoire of songs. While watching and listening to him, I caught movement in the sky out of the corner of my eye, looked up, and there was a bald eagle chasing a great blue heron over the marsh. I got the impression the eagle was harassing the heron, maybe chasing it away from a prime fishing spot.
Here we are, day 18 of the 40-day self care challenge. How are you today?
My rhythm has become two or three walks a day rather than one long walk. It’s interesting to go out at different times, to see how the light moves. Not that I haven’t done that sort of thing in the past, but it’s usually something I might do once or twice and then go back to the long walks. I like this rhythm and if it’s at all possible, I might keep walking to it when we move out of this liminal state of being not where we were and not yet where we are going. I sat on the dock for my morning meditation. I’m working on establishing the habit of an afternoon meditation. It doesn’t have to be formal or long. A closing of the eyes, a couple of deep breaths, a singing of a mantra or song. Twice a day keeps the anxiety at bay.
A little something lovely for today: A podcast with Terry Tempest Williams. (No registration required.)
Thank you so much for stopping by today and visiting with me in this virtual way. I sometimes feel a little guilt about having the privilege of so much space to walk around and stretch out. It helps, a little, to be able to share it with you.
Be safe, be well. ♥♥♥
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,336) The many hues of the color pink. 1,337) The perfumed air. 1,338) Listening to Beethoven’s songs moving through the air, being carried by the wind. 1,339) Witnessing. 1,340) Exploring.