As I went to pull the curtains I noticed the full moon illuminating the night sky, casting beautifully framed shadows of the trees and landscape as if preparing for a sacred dance. I smiled a knowing “I get it” smile and remembered to take a slow deep breath and actually acknowledge the moon and nature and spirit. I began to think of how the moon is like our deepest dark emotions; hidden from sight yet in control of our waves. Think about it. The moon is invisible to us in daylight and controls earth’s cycles yet it is at night, when sunlight reflects off the surface, that its essence can have its full expression. The same thing goes for our deepest emotions; pain, fear, sadness, worry, shame, guilt, fear of abandonment, not feeling good enough… It can be a very long list. I know for me it was until I began to shine some light on the craters in my own inner moon that sat dark and festering for decades. They all related back to childhood patterns ingrained by my parents who had their own patterns ingrained by their parents and so on and so on. A negative karmic cycle of how I got screwed up by the child who grew into an adult to become my parents did their best with how they had been screwed up as a child. I have, until a two years ago, spent my adult life trying everything I could to hide from my pain. On some treadmill of life plodding away hoping that if I did this or that, took this or that, earned this or that, and made this one or that one happy, that I would be released from this strangle hold on my soul. No matter what I did, I was not peaceful or content and was at times so far out of my body that my energy would spin like the Tasmanian devil, drawing in more karma (I mean drama) until it would subside, leaving residual scars on my psyche that were notches on my mind’s egoic belt. Ego (my mind noise) loved when I was in drama, that’s what feeds it. Ego does not want me to slow down and take a breath and take guidance from my heart and intuition. It wants me to operate from my mind’s fear so it can self perpetuate the cycle of I’m not good enough and keep me stuck.

Ego (my mind noise) only made me sadder, more worried, defensive, and a trying to please people as a “dance puppet dance” person existing with a body while only having glimpses of peace, joy, and equanimity. It knew how to play my pain strings like a fiery bow against my soul’s strings. I knew it was possible to authentically live with awareness and in my heart with no more than glimpses of it but did not dare try to achieve it for that meant I would have to feel my feelings, all of them! I know now that the more I tamped down all the “bad” feelings that I was also tamping down any chance of truly feeling the “good” feelings. The ego tricked me often by allowing me to feel happy or pleasure or reward but these were temporary and only physical; they are not even in the same realm as joy, peace, love, and equanimity which are spiritual ways of being from heart centered awareness. Equanimity comes from the Latin word aequus meaning balanced, and animus meaning spirit or internal state. For me it means not being swayed by anything. Maintaining a go with the flow of life’s awareness while staying in my heart rather than in my mind where the ego resides.

The only reason I began to learn a new way was by being shattered. I was broken on April 23, 2011 by the sudden death of Jill, my wife of thirteen plus years. I learned eventually, after trying everything I could to avoid giant onslaught of pain that crumpled me into a skeletal lump of broken pieces, that the only way to see my moon shine was to head directly into the craters of pain and sadness and fear and see what they were and where they came from. Even in the throes of do I kill myself or not I knew that I was not depressed, I knew that somewhere there was a light but I did not how to see it yet. I learned how to be alone and not lonely, I learned what it was that was missing in me and what was not being filled anymore by her. I learned that it is okay to feel, to truly feel all emotions without judgment or labeling them as good or bad or right or wrong. I slowly learned through practice to allow all my feelings their full expression, which sometimes left me prostrate on floor sobbing until it was done. Each time I allowed these waves to have their way it opened me up to more light and healing. I learned to breathe and stay with my emotions instead of distracting from them. I learned, finally, that I can only elude my sadness but cannot escape it and that the only way out was in. I remember some lyrics to a song that go “you’ve got walk through the darkness, uh huh, until you get to the light.” There is no other way to become peaceful, joyful, and equanimitable. No book, or retreat, or meditation tape will undo the deeply ingrained scars. They are tools to aid in healing but it is only me who can heal me through awareness and introspection and breath. I hear often in my yoga practice that the pose begins when you want to get out of it and it is the same for the spiritual yoga I was learning. I like that yoga is referred to as a practice. Like awareness it is continual learning and requires conscious breathing.

As Rumi penned “As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.” Intentionally shining light on the deep sadness and staying with it wherever it leads is the way to release the hold on the soul. It is with awareness and practice that the unburdening of emotional baggage begins. Each wave that comes in is an opportunity to surf it instead of drowning in it. I remind my self to breathe. Slow inhale, pause, slow exhale. Three times in a row, at least. Practicing this in the midst of turbulent emotional waves becomes more automatic in time as the heart strengthens by becoming more vulnerable. And to clarify, a vulnerable heart is not fragile and does not get broken. It is steady, and calm and strong and is open to all feelings without bias. So back the moon and my moons and all their hidden majesty and influence. Let the light shine and guide me with loving kindness as I journey with life’s waves instead of sitting on the shore for fear of where they may or may not lead. namaste

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