“Going Dark”: Winter in Summer
First, I feel I would like to explain the scary phrase I shared in the title, “going dark.” People that know me from Sangha or classes, or people that follow me on Instagram or Facebook, know I like to write. It’s been something that has been nurturing for me since I was a kid. I would sit in my room, kneeling next to my bed, using my bed as a desk to write whatever was on my mind, listening to 8-track tapes. My hand would move, pouring out stories, adventures, curiosities, and many times poetry for other people to enjoy. As I got older and experienced more challenges and new things, the poetry and curiosities began being more for myself, to observe and see what is there and what is present. It was a way to "GPS", almost in a list form for me to visually ask and see the answers to, Who am I now? Or, to use the question from this month's newsletter, What season am I in? This practice became a way of writing about my path, my journey, my cycles in nature, feeling through changes in my body and mind; it became a part of my sadhana and a necessary means to help me create space, to air out the koshas and remind myself of my union with the Divine.
And here is the thing, I don’t write all of the time. In fact, I go in cycles. When I use the phrase “going dark”, it’s actually a time of personal self-study and reflection as a way to cultivate and grow creatively - to remember abundance. To look at, Where do I want to go next? Or, What do I need? To realign. A time for acceptance of what is. I should also mention, for those that don’t know me, being a middle school teacher, I am inundated with sights, sounds, movements, and energy in my job every minute of every day, that summer, is many times for me almost like winter; a time to rest, reset, rejuvenate, play. The normal typical cycle for me, sometimes yes, can even land into self-loathing for a moment. I am not hiking enough, I am not spending time with people enough, I am not writing enough, doing yoga enough… Basically, am I enough? This is because I see so many people doing, doing, doing, in teh movement forward in summer. And I feel that I sit there non-doing, non-doing, non-doing, forgetting how much I was just doing for the past 9-10 months, and reminding myself that powering down for a while is okay. I am not stuck. In fact, it is the opposite. To allow my cells to settle. Seeds are being planted. And after having gone through many cycles as such, trusting that the seeds will grow in their own time…when they are ready. And I will write and do again. It’s not a writer’s block. It’s not Monet’s blue period. It’s a necessary time for me, especially when I feel depleted from work or life, to soften, be vulnerable, and to check in with my personal sadhana. What I have discovered throughout the cycles of my life, so far in retrospect, is that I come to the same remembrance of, “AH! There I am!” in relaxation. Touching back into my spirituality, my faith, my love, my light, which is our light, our love, our oneness.
I have been slowly gnawing away at a book called The Bodhisattva Path by Thich Nhat Hanh. I probably should read it in succession, but I randomly open it like a devotional and read whatever I am meant to find. It opened to chapter 9: Entering the Door of Nonduality. It states, “Nonduality means that things are not one and they are not two.” I had to reread that statement to myself a couple of times. As the chapter continues, the teacher presented the question to the bodhisattvas, ‘“Sirs, how does the bodhisattva enter the gate of nonduality? Let each one explain as they understand it.”’ And there were 17 different expressions of how each one understood it. An example is:
“Birth and death are two. But since all dharmas are not born to begin with, they must be without death. By mastering and learning to accept this truth of birthlessness, one may enter the gate of nonduality.”
“‘I’ and ‘mine’ are two. Because there is an ‘I’; there is also a ‘mine.’ But if there is no ‘I,’ there will be no ‘mine.’ In this way one enters the gate of nonduality.”
And on and on the chapter goes, until they ask the teacher the same question back and the teacher sits in silence. If I am understanding that correctly, to me this means they all are correct.
I often wonder, is this the gift of cycles? The toggle. The movement back and forth, the ups and downs, the cycling between and around things, until we walk through the opening of nonduality remembering who we are. Many times this requires us to embrace whatever season we feel we are in. What does it look like, sound like, feel like? What is needed in this season? What changes need to happen in personal sadhana to assist each of us in coming back to self? Remembering the heart in all of us.
My hope in writing this, of being vulnerable in sharing my own experience of what season I am in now, at least today, is that it gives permission for others to do the same. To remember oneness. To witness that cycles have purpose. And that we are not alone on this journey of spiritual growth. What season are you in today? What do you need?
Whatever you may find, there you are. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantihi.
Peace is ours,