The light & the dark.

Here's Something I came across whilst looking up stuff linking Yoga with the summer solstice, not altogether the most comfortable, but thought I'd share it with you..

"Thank you sunlight, thank you shadow.
Although we enthusiastically welcome back the sun at the winter solstice, it somehow goes against the grain to celebrate the return of the darkness at the summer solstice...
Culturally, religiously and in our psyche the light has come to be associated with goodness, and darkness evil. However, when we demonise darkness we miss out on the healing nurturing qualities that darkness brings. So many good things happen in the dark; a baby grows in the darkness of the womb, a seed begins life in the darkness of the soil, the darkness embraces us and gives us rest at the end of each day... By working with the ebb and flow of the year in this way [yoga, meditation, dance, rest, cooking etc..] we balance the shadow and sunlight in our lives"
Yoga through the year. J. Shipway.

Carrying on with the theme of self practice, I'm bringing in a bit of the gritty stuff. Some things that we would most likely love to say don't exist in our peaceful and harmonious lives, brace yourself...

Stress
Insomnia
Fear
Illness
Pain
Overwhelm
Money (or lack of)
Commitment (or lack of)
Loss

These are some of the darker aspects of our lives, they lurk in the shadows of our everyday existences, and can be really destabilising when they appear and the rug gets whipped out from under our feet.

How can we use this darkness to our advantage?
Well, not sure about advantage, but we can do a few things to reassure ourselves of a few tools which often escape us in stressful times;

-Everything changes, things will pass. The only inevitables being living and death. (mmm cheerful- but true)
-Stress hormones can be useful! just not too many!
After all, it takes a big bumper shot of adrenalin to get us up each day, so don't fear or demonise these amazing chemicals inside us, they have a place. Maybe don't encourage them with caffeine/stimulants...? Only you know what works best, but are you willing to try chamomile instead? Ahhhh!!

-We have amazing breathing techniques at our fingertips to help us with stress and insomnia, to maybe help with anxiety, note the word "help" not "cure". Square breathing  has been a huge help for a number of my clients who have historically suffered from insomnia.
The breath is never supposed to be strained or uncomfortable, and if it's better for you to have a longer or shorter count, then do that!

-Illness is a fact of life. Even Siddartha Gautama the Buddha had a very rough time with Delhi Belly, and ended up being his demise.
The asana pose Peacock, or Mayurasana, was to help avoid over-toxicity affecting the body. Its name Peacock comes from the symbolic image of a living creature able to withstand toxins,- creating its blue plumage.
This is incidentally is also one of the reasons that traditional  Buddhist Tankhas (pin-up) often depict deities with blue skin.


Tibetan medicine buddha with his healing balm.

Our bodies have so much strength in everyday protection from illnesses but some may slip beneath the radar. (Yes I'm talking about Covid!) This can be horrible, there's no escaping that. But perhaps we could consider this "fallow" time to be a pause in the "hamster wheel" concept, to get perspective. Time to reassess our priorities. ( and a great time to catch up on books/Netflix)

Overwhelm is a beast, however, we can't clone ourselves, that would be weird anyway.
We are only human, this might be a chance to get some help from friends, family, (non-friends?), basically- delegate.
In Yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sufi (most likely other lineages too-feel free to comment..) we call on the Sangha, the like-minded people we have around us. Originally seen as the spiritual community. Your spiritual support system.

Money- Id love to say I have all the answers here, but to give an admittedly distant response, we are often beset with challenges, and I firmly believe that we wouldn't be presented with them if we couldn't handle them.
I have been to some pretty dark places with (or should I say without) money, and have had to ditch ego driven pride in order to ask for help when I really needed it. That stands out as one of my biggest challenges yet. (My stuff I know, and yes childbirth was painful- different level)
There is definitely an element of trust involved with the insanely tricksy subject of money, something I will be diving deeper in to in future episodes...

Pain. A good friend of mine suffers from arthritis almost everywhere in her body. She lives in one of the coldest places I can think of other than the poles because it is soothing. She meditates on her pain. She teaches how she is able to live with this pain. She eats fresh wild salmon once a week, as the oils help her body and she gets moments of relief. She has put herself forward as a subject of research in medicine to help others cope with their pain too. She is inspiration.

On a personal note, mine and many other's pains are monthly and, if I am aware of timing I can head off the potential pain by practicing certain Kria Yoga techniques as discussed last week. This comes with a lot of practice and experimentation, and was by no means instant.

Noticing a theme here? No quick fix? leading gently into;
Commitment.
Is it pressure? Is it being weighed down? Does this give a sense of lack of choice and freedom? perhaps.
But commitment is a massive hurdle to win over. Yes win!
I'm deferring yet again to an awesome poet because his words give me goose-bumps every time I read this:
 

Loss. So akin to pain. So painful, often physically so.
When we are in the pain of loss it is so intense that, well, I don't know about you but I would love to be disassociated with it. The trouble is it doesn't go away easily especially if you try not to let it have its time.

One of you lovelies gave me a book when my dog died in January this year, it help me so much to be in the grief of not having that gentle harmless beast around me.
The book was "This Shining life". H Kline.
To have this friend reach out and not deny my struggle, but to empathise with gentleness and a generous gift -not just the book but also her understanding... made all the difference. I can't help bringing this back to Sangha, the understanding and kindness of community.

I hope this helps to realise that Yoga isn't just on a sticky mat, it is wherever it is needed to help you on the path of your life.

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