BirdwingsI've been thinking about how it is sometimes helpful to find things that allow you to realize your power and grace, to connect with the light within. On the other hand, it can be detrimental if you identify your power and light too strongly with those things. I was thinking about this first with regards to running. Training for a marathon made me feel invincible: strong, courageous, capable, joyful - but when I became injured and couldn't run, I lost not only the activity itself but also my strength, courage and joy. In another example, a woman might feel like a goddess when she puts on an evening gown, but she might fail to notice that same goddess within herself when she's wearing old sweatpants or is naked. A yogi might feel power and courage when standing in a warrior pose but not when entering into a difficult work negotiation.
Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you're bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you've been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings.
I suppose this issue is really about impermanence again. Though these things have the power to open our eyes to the potential that lies within us, they fade in and out of our lives. They cannot be depended upon, and we cannot hold onto them no matter how we try. Knees can be injured, an evening gown can be torn, our bodies age and change shape, and we cannot always stand in warrior pose. The paradox is that by experiencing them fully and letting them go, we can somehow retain their power and grace, whereas by clinging to them we seem to lose everything.
For myself, I am working on finding the warrior within, even when I'm not on the mat. Especially when I'm not on the mat. Awakening is really about what Rumi says so beautifully: learning to see your deepest presence in every small contracting and expanding, in every inhale and exhale, in every moment. It is an amazing gift to come into yourself fully, but it is a gift we might not appreciate if we didn't fade in and out of this knowing, this being present. It is a gift we can find around every corner, each expansion and contraction of the breath in the body, of the mind, of the spirit, another opportunity to go deep.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons