We are marked by these days of uncertainty and instability. Coiling and uncoiling through this dissolutionary and possibly profoundly evolutionary phase, as we ride the waves of the unknown. Shattered and shaped and reshaped by the unusual movements of the earth beneath our feet. We are all trying to figure out how to stand, as this is a whole new ground. And it isn’t yet formed. There is no way to not be affected by the experiences of this year. The global. The local. The personal. We’re stamped by this time.
How we will make a future of meaning depends on our receptivity. Are we open? Are we willing?
Painful truths surface up. It’s fucking hard. There’s death and destruction and disillusion. Doorways of change open up. Will we walk through?
In some ways, this is such a giant opportunity to make long lasting REAL change happen. We have to sit in twisted positions for a while. Not comfortable. Not ideal. We need to tend to how we feel. Soft. More sensitive. So we can open. Let the lessons and layers and lament and longing and learning and listening move through our systems. Open us up.
Can we deal with the non ideal?
My family and I have been in hard core quarantine mode for months. Not seeing anyone or going anywhere. We did go on a couple of hikes in the last few weeks. As the numbers rise, we don’t really see how that’s gonna change any time soon. We did, however, manage to escape to the mountains over the weekend.
You know how sometimes things just don’t flow? One challenge and then another came pouring in. Nothing major. Just serious discomfort. A change in the weather forecast kept us up way too late the night before driving, trying to figure out what to do – should we go somewhere else? Shorten our trip? Give up on going at all? Why does it have to be so hard? I heard myself ask that question more than once. So privileged, I know. Indecisive. Unsure. The morning was rough. We left super late. Four and a half hour drive plus nature pee breaks. No way we would stop at a public restroom during this raging pandemic in crazy California, non-mask wearing, white privileged, anti-science, individualistic, yoga land.
The road was stunning. The kids were amazing. The snacks were yummy. And the fresh air… Much needed fresh air.
We got to the campground late, and the campsite that we LOVE was already taken.
We settled for something less amazing than we envisioned. Don’t get me wrong – it was stunning! But the campsite was on a big slope – perfect for kids to run downhill, and fall into the fire pit, or hit their heads on sharp rocks. It’s not really our style to yell at them: “Don’t run! You could fall and hurt yourself!” But you bet that is exactly what we found ourselves doing. I finally became the full expression of the Jewish Mother archetype. A milestone!
Many of California’s campgrounds are closed due to Covid. This place, which is normally barely occupied, super chill, almost perfectly isolated, was much more crowded than we’ve ever seen it. Thankfully, keeping distance was not a problem.
Camping with kids is a non-stop, crazy ass shit show. There’s never a dull moment. It’s not a meditative situation. It’s more about survival than poetry. Managing to read a passage by John Muir is a luxury. We always forget just how intense it gets. There’s always a crisis to deal with, a water bottle to fill, and another snack to prepare. Getting to a hike is always later than you think it would be. The sun is always hotter than you expect. And the nights and early mornings are always way colder than your long underwear and sleeping bag (designed for low temperatures) are ready to protect you from.
Deal with the not ideal.
And the Sierras pulled me in. And the light that stretched long across the sky filled my summer bucket with treasures only available in the precious moments of loving family memories being made. Children laughing and fighting and finding each other again. My beloved, the father of my babies, the partner of my life, the man of my dreams – pitching a tent with me, and never ever ever forgetting the propane for the camp-stove. Aspen trees glistening in the light. Wind strong and wild whispering a clearing in the forest of my mind. Meadows to run through. Feet in the mountain stream – so cold and fresh and cleansing. Pinecones thrown into the river with wishes. Dragonflies blessing them as they follow the flow to a magical place where a fairy will make it come true. Cows coming by to say hello. Their gentle souls touching my heart. Flowers and bees and butterflies. Doggie in her element. Rocks to climb. Breath deep and wide and full.
Summertime is a song of senses and call to sensitivity. We feel the heat. Warm air on our skin. Visions of hotness wash our eyes with inspiration. Waves and sand and freckles. Late nights out. Carless vibes. Flavorful fruit to bite into, letting sticky juice drip on our chin, spitting watermelon seeds, and drinking it all in. New tunes playing on KCRW, driving with the windows down along the PCH. Sounds of summer music pulsing through the city. The scent of sunsets and sparkles of stars in the night sky above the Sierras.
This is a different kind of Summer. It isn’t the usual beachy, LACMA jazz nights, and activity filled season. Life is moving through us in different ways. It pushes us through different angles. A cycle broke. And something else wants to break in. Will we let it? Will we deal with the not ideal? Will we turn it into delicious new dishes of fresh ways of being?
We can resist. We can complain. We can kick and scream and punch doors. We can cry. We can be angry. And frustrated. We can have all the feels. And then what are we actually gonna do? What are we willing to shed and shred? Who will we become?
Masks and distancing and the willingness to do something for more than our own selves, mirrors our willingness to stand with our brothers and sisters of different colors, and destroy the ways of the past, as we carve the path of the future. We can only do this together. And our work is on an individual level.
As the season progresses, it offers us a wide range of experience. We are standing in the center of the opportunity to change – REALLY CHANGE.
Will we embrace it? Will we deal with the not ideal?
Summer always calls for a sensual experience, and this Summer of 2020 calls our senses onto a shifting plane of existence. It asks us to sense life through different perspectives, new sounds, other kinds of flavors. It offers up a smell we’ve never let into our nose. It touches us in unprecedented ways.
It may not feel ideal, but as it serves us the opportunity to relish the senses through the salt of our sweat and the sweetness of stone fruit, it invites us to receive more deeply, and create more courageously, and deal more maturely, and love life more fully.
How is life moving through you this season? How can you receive yourself more deeply – with all of your complexities? How can you receive the world more fully – with all its flaws and challenges? What do you want to generate? What do you plan to do – inwardly and outwardly – to contribute to the changes we must create in society?
Here’s a practice you can do, to help increase your sensitivity – towards yourself and others – and bring this contemplation into your body, mind, heart, and voice of expression:
Take a few moments to pause. Open up your senses. Notice how you feel in your body. Listen to the layers of your thoughts. Taste the flavor of your emotions. Breathe the scent of your experience. Allow your vision to turn both inward and outward.
What’s working in your life right now?
What doesn’t work?
What needs to shift?
How would the shifts that you make in your own life contribute to and benefit life on this planet?
Place your hands in Chin Mudra – Index finger touching thumb – Embodying the cyclical nature of the inseparability between universal and individual. Breathe slowly. When ready, engage Ujjayi Pranayama. Take 5-10 long breathes of Ujjayi (tone the back of the throat and tighten the passage of the breath, so that it makes a resonant sound). Feel the way the breath touches you as it moves inwardly. Feel it inside as you pause for a moment. Feel it moving out, touching the inside of your lungs, the airways, and the nostrils. Feel its absence inside your body before you pull a new breath in. When you’re ready, you can add the mantra – Hamsa – to the movement of your breath. Hamsa is the mantra of the breath. Let it move on the waves of prana in whatever way it wants to move – Ham on the inhale, Sa on the exhale. Or Hamsa as you inhale and Hamsa as you exhale. Or just let it flow and see where it takes you. There’s no right or wrong ways of doing it. Enjoy the exploration. Stay open to what it shows you and tells you about your life, about yourself, about the world, and about what you can do to make a difference. Allow your senses and your breath to be your guides.
I hope that this provides you with a gateway into your own process of transformation, and a deepening into your own self inquiry.
Let me know how this practice and contemplation touch you. Comment below and tell us all about it. Your voice is important and I would LOVE to hear from you!
So much love,