Many of us have experienced it in our lives.
The “something missing,” the mis-alignment, and feeling that something isn’t quite whole. And we’ve all experienced the opposite. The moment when the gap is filled by a beautiful sunset, or the moment when two souls fall in love.
The alchemy of life is that this feeling crumbles and once again we feel lost in space. We quicken and, in haste, search for the next sunset, lover or melody that will bring us to that exact place again. It isn’t about recreating moments. It’s about those times when the unknown becomes familiar.
On a recent trip to India I was surrounded by a culture so opposite of anything I have ever experienced, yet it was the most familiar place I have ever been.
It’s like that the first time we see our beloved or birth a child. A familiarity that fills that space. Still these moments always crumble. The trip always has an end from that perspective.
How do we get off the ferris wheel of samsara (the ups and downs and cycle of life)?
When we begin to realize that the emptiness is familiar too. When we quicken to be in silence the way we quicken to be with our beloved. When we become the beloved.
I think the Buddhist have it right by speaking emptiness, which never sat well with me, being a “glass half full” kind of girl. In our rajasic (fast paced nature) society we tend to see emptiness as a bad thing. These teachings help create a familiarity where we as humans—but especially Americans—are not familiar.
I remember thinking as a young girl that I didn’t have much time and that every day I had to be better than the day before, but in a very superficial way. I thought each day I had to be more successful or my waist must look skinnier every day to show that I was improving.
We all have the inherent want to better ourselves and to be good, but we need to redefine what good is.
I have made peace with the cycle of life. Life is not as linear as we would like to think. We may not always make more money this year than last, be more athletic or witty. But in shedding our old conditioned ways, we do have an opportunity to be more authentic and more accepting of the cycle of the human experience.
Search for the familiar in all experiences and find comfort there. To end the cycle of pleasure vs. pain, we bring the bodymind back into a state of neutral. Like a mother cradling the crying baby back to a state of ease. Seeing that all is sacred, even the space between that doesn’t have to be filled.
Here’s a practical breathing application that I like to use to remind myself of the cycle of life and the wholeness that it is.
Coming into a comfortable seated posture. Breath in and out through the nose, focusing on the breath along the spine. As you inhale imagine the breath moving upward to the crown of the head. Pause and notice a feeling of fullness and your relationship to that.
Exhale. Imagine the breath moving down the spine. Pause at the bottom of the exhale. Feel what it feels like to be empty. Notice your relationship to that. Repeat for two to three minutes and try to notice, after time, no difference between the turning of the breath. Witness one continuous flow. Where fullness and emptiness are one.
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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger