I was driving home very late the other night from Burlington, engrossed in my thoughts, and totally oblivious to everything around me (maybe not the safest thing when you are driving in snow at 11 pm). I was on auto-pilot, having driven that route from Burlington to my home in Montpelier too many times to count. As I was churning the latest maelstrom of obsessive thinking, worrying and decision-making, I crested my hill, looked up and saw the bright winter constellation, ORION, beaming down at me from above the trees on Ridge Street.
Immediately and without conscious intent, I took a deep breath, my thinking came to a halt, and I was pulled back into the present moment. As my lungs filled with that rich deep breath, I felt the presence of a larger energy than my little pea-brained thinking self. I was awed by the incredibly beautiful sky on this dark winter night and it seemed for a moment that whole Universe quietly opened up to me, without making a big deal of itself. It was just there, waiting for me to notice it. I turned onto my street feeling much more present and alive and felt the gratitude that comes when we realize that it's not just 'all about me'.
There is a word Upeksha (in Sanskrit) or Upekkha (in Pali) which means equanimity, non-attachment, non-discrimination, even-mindedness or letting go. And, on a another level it means keeping ourselves open to the larger perspective and that our limited, tightly held perspective, isn't the only one in the Universe! What I love about Upeksha, is it's invitation to let go of our tightly held beliefs and ideas, in favor of seeing the bigger picture. In the whole of the Universe we are both small and limited yet also unlimited! In the words of Walt Whitman, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." So I too am contradicting myself in saying that we are both large and small. But getting back to Upeksha. So when we can come from a calm, balanced place (I think of the scales for the zodiac sign of Libra) we don't get so caught up in reactivity or fly off the handle when something doesn't go our way or when things don't turn out as planned. If we can keep that larger vision, well, in the words of the old parable about a man and his horse, something 'Could be good, could be bad.' It's really in how we look at it, it's all in our perspective.
Upeksha allows us to be stirred by things and touched by things in our hearts, but not shaken by them. I like this difference. I read somewhere that this is how James Bond likes his Martinis- stirred but not shaken. Perfect! When we turn on the news and hear about ISIS or human trafficking, or another gazillion feet of snow being dumped on the East Coast do we get completely thrown off to the point that our day is clouded, or can we let our hearts be touched, but still keep in mind the larger view? Obviously there are appropriate times to be charged, angry or even outraged by the state of the world, but the practice of Upeksha gives us another option or path to travel down.
Ultimately, try as we might, we are not always in control of what happens in life. One thing that we are in control of however, is how we RESPOND and REACT to life and to what happens on a daily basis. When we take the larger perspective, that eagle's eye view, take a deep breath and remember Orion in that vast sky, we might just find that all is well and, 'Could be good, could be bad.' We can open our hearts to love without attachment to the results and know that someone sitting across from us might have an opinion or way of being in the world that is just as valid as our own. When we widen the lens on our world, we see just how tiny and microscopic as well as how grand and large we all are. We tap into the multitude of perspectives that make the world go 'round and remember that we all contain multitudes!
Asana Suggestions: Poses that help us to take a broader view like Eagle Pose and Warrior 3. Try some standing poses to see from a high vantage point or try balancing on blocks.
Contemplations to Deepen Your Practice:
* Have you ever gotten caught up in really really wanting something b/c you thought it was 'so great' only to find out later that it was not the right thing/person/situation for you, but you just couldn't see it at the time?
* Do you spend a lot of time in your head churning, ruminating, and thinking about things? Could you pause for a moment, take a deep breath and open up to the sky above or something beautiful in nature?
* When you read or hear about something difficult or upsetting, how do you typically react? Is there another way? What would a less habitual way of responding look like?
* Do we always think our way is the only way? Take time today to open your mind to someone else's way of doing things, or someone else's perspective on things.
* Go outside and look up- look at the sky, the stars, the clouds, the moon or whatever calls out to you. Spend a few moments contemplating this freakin' huge, vast Universe of which we are in integral part.
That's Where I'm Heading by Danna Faulds:
You mean to say that I am
plugged into the same socket
as that electric blue sky, so
vibrant that I want to lose
myself in its azure height?
You mean that the same juice
that runs the universe flows
through me like a love song
or a bolt of lightning?
You mean life isn't about
being good or perfect or
virtuous but daring to
freely follow energy?
Are you trying to say in your
slow and patient way that the
presence of God is everywhere-
That even as I bumble through
my life I have no reason to hide,
that I'm not a sinner, but a
conduit for light, that even
when I'm dull and uninspired,
the seeds of my awareness
are sprouting, even now?
How utterly audacious-
but I know you're right.
Holding back just leaves me
feeling less alive, while letting
go leads- well- I don't know
where it leads, but I know
that's where I'm heading.
Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated. Click on Comments.