The dance of light and dark

new moon: a moment of pause

Asato ma sadgamaya

Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya

Mrityor mamritam gamaya

Om, shanti, shanti, shanti

English translation:

Lead us from unreal to real

Lead us from darkness to the light

Lead us from the fear of death

To knowledge of immortality

Om, peace, peace, peace

On the new moon, let’s relax into the dark moments we have recently encountered and treat these times as opportunities for rest. Think of that feeling you have as you fully exhale and pause for a moment or two before you let the inhale come rushing in. That little pause between exhale and inhale offers a moment of respite in a world where things are constantly moving, changing, and presenting us with unknowns and unexpected circumstances.

It took me about a week of social distancing during this pandemic before I felt the weight of isolation. I miss seeing friends, taking my daughter to museums, the library, playgrounds; and I miss eating out in restaurants and spending time in cafes. But at the same time that we were whisked into this new paradigm of keeping our distance ‘just in case,’ we have also been inching toward spring. That is the light at the end of my tunnel in this unique moment in history: spring always follows winter, just as the moon always waxes after it wanes into its darkest expression.

As in the Sanskrit sloka above, in yoga we don’t just ask for someone to turn the light on. We ask to be lead from darkness to the light. Just as you can’t throw yourself into hanumanasana or chakrasana without preparing your body, everything in yoga is a process full of ups and downs, light and dark, success and failure, conviction and doubt.

Despite that constant flux, the new moon offers a great symbol for rest, resetting, and realizing our intentions for the moment. Last new moon I set the intention to practice yoga on my mat 5 minutes in the morning and at night and to read 5 minutes a day from something inspirational. I ended up sticking to that about 80% of the time. Not bad! I want you to know that setting an intention and not meeting it 100% is not a failure - it is just something to reflect on. Why didn’t I meet that goal? Do I need to modify my life to meet it, or do I need to modify my intentions to fit the reality of my life? That’s the perennial question and the trick to setting appropriate intentions.

With that in mind, my intention this new moon is to extend my morning and evening meditations from 5 minutes to 7 minutes. That is so I can add a little pranayama (either alternate nostril breathing or bhramari, or both).

What are your intentions for this new moon? How are you going to take this opportunity to hit your reset button and stay inspired in these uncertain times? Not sure? Exhale fully, let yourself pause before inhaling and see if an answer comes.

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