The power of silence includes the power to slow down inside, to arrest our worry, attempts to fix things, or rush to get things done. I say this to my students all the time: don’t ramp up the energy inside to match the energy outside if you want to effectively get things done. Slow down. But sometimes I forget, too, despite my words and practice. I was caught by such a moment just this week. In navigating crises, in looking at my stack of work, in recognizing I would be out of town all next week, and in dealing with interrupted sleep, I sped up a bit inside and sent an email that tried to convey a simple need and failed. Why? Because I did not slow down enough to listen properly, and let a business like tone try to quickly speak when a slower, more human, more honest missive might have communicated better. No big deal, we worked it out, but it points to a lesson for me nonetheless:
There is division within us, within me. And that division gives me a chance to learn lessons. There is struggle, despite the perfection of Nuit in all Her starry, unified splendor. For most of us, we get caught in the division and that causes pain. It doesn’t have to.
Here’s another way I’ve been working with this concept this week:
My morning practice of yoga before meditation continues. Will I ever flow into downward dog like the talented Suzanne Sterling? It is doubtful. My hamstrings, always tight, refuse to release my legs enough for them to straighten, and after this week’s barefoot style running session, even touching my toes felt hard. And yet every morning I’m showing up because I want to be reunited with Nuit, flowing into all, however imperfect that seems to me. I want to become one with my body again after a night in bed – sleep or no sleep. I want to remember that movement and stillness are one thing, and that breath unites them. Am I in competition with myself to see whether or not my downward dog will improve? No, strangely enough for one who used to be as macho as I. I am curious to see whether or not I will keep showing up for this devotion to practice, to connection, to opening. The patient struggle of my yoga leads me into the dissolution of the meditation which follows. Perhaps 10 years from now, the yoga itself will cease to feel like struggle, just as the meditation finally did. I don’t know. I really don’t care. It has become an act of love, offered to my learning process, to my shifting state of humanity. The mat and the bench are altars. I am both the offering to the Gods, and I offer this to my own divine nature, and to my life’s work.
What inside us can slow down today? What can breathe and look at the pain and joy of division? What can we offer at our altars, for love’s sake, for a chance of union? Silence is with us: in the downtown city streets, in our frantic checking of news and websites, in our worries about friends, clients, children, or this world. Can you sense it? Can you feel it?
What is your offering? Can you bring some silence, slowness, and devotion to your work today? What is divided in you, and what unites?