Beauty in Shadow

 Photo of the January 31, 2018 lunar eclipse taken by Patrick Bremser  © Patrick Bremser Photography

Photo of the January 31, 2018 lunar eclipse taken by Patrick Bremser © Patrick Bremser Photography

As I sit in the sun and its (unusual) February warmth, I feel inspired to share some of my process and experience of our recent Blood Moon, Blue Moon, Full Lunar Eclipse and the questions it has inspired within me. 

Scheduling fortune offered an unusual and potent experience to me last week. I was with my teachers Tias Little & Henry Shukman on my 5th annual Zen & Yoga retreat at Esalen Institute. Even on an average day, the steep cliffs, rocky shores, abundant flora & fauna, and general magic of this coastline provides a backdrop for spectacular beauty. Add to that the alchemy of yoga and zen and my mind-heart sings with both sorrow and joy. 

By some sort of accident of fate, this year it also offered a spectacular lunar eclipse unlike any I've seen before. 

I woke the morning of the eclipse at 4:40am and was immediately energized and inspired to watch the beauty unfold. Ideas of going back to sleep vanished, and I crept down toward the cliff-hanging hot springs to sit in the warmth of the sulfur-rich spring water. As I made may way into a mostly-empty tub, I was struck by the depth and multitude of stars. The bright almost-full moon had rendered their twinkle invisible the previous two nights. A few falling stars streaked across the sky as the moon-in-shadow slowly lowered toward the horizon.  

Upon arrival my first evening, I was surprised to find the upper pool unoccupied and I snuck a forbidden photo of sunset before slipping into the warm water. 

As I settled silently into the warm water, I looked closely at the moon and the gentle shadow of the earth reddening its typically blue luminance. I found myself considering the way shadows reveal and hide phenomena in our lives. 

During this eclipse, the full moon was visible throughout, even when it was clear the earth's shadow had made its way into totality. The shadow both hid the light reflected off the moon, and simultaneously revealed the moon's craters and depths in a more vivid and pronounced way. I found myself considering the shadows in our life and how they also both cloak and reveal our Self in profound ways. 

The waves crashed onto the rocks below the baths. I could feel the sway of the moon on the ocean's tidal rhythms, and I strongly felt the pull of those tides in my body, in my life. 

My teachers and journey in yoga has always celebrated noticing, curiosity, and questions. I've been reminded of the importance of discovery, but also in NOT having answers. In the spirit of that vulnerable inquiry, I share my questions with you today. 

May you have the courage to follow your own questions and find strength in being true with yourself. 

Sunrise my first morning at Esalen Institute. 

What does it mean to be in shadow? 

Who is my shadow self? What does she want me know know? Learn? Reveal to me? Teach me? 

In what ways does our feminine power reside in the light of the moon? 

What is it about light that distracts us from dark? 

Why are we so fearful of the dark? Especially the shadows inside us and our experience? 

Without the darkness of the sky, the stars are not visible. 

Why do we celebrate the sun at the expense of the dark shadows? 

 These costal cypress are so beautiful, especially as the rising sun casts them in a silhouette-like shadow. 

These costal cypress are so beautiful, especially as the rising sun casts them in a silhouette-like shadow. 

What am I afraid to feel? What am I afraid to acknowledge? 

In what ways am I living in the shadow of doubt? In the shadow of fear? In the shadow of not-good-enough yet? 

What is calling to be? 

Who are my guides? 

What is the cost asked of me? 

What is home? Is it a place? A feeling? A Sangha (community)? 

What am I willing to embrace? What am I needing to embrace? Am I willing to embrace what I need to hold on to? 

What am I willing to surrender? What am I needing to surrender? Am I willing to surrender what I need to let go of? 

Is what I think is practical the right path for me to take? 

How do I know when to leap? 

emptiness as sky > the vast boundless sky > the weather clouds that sky from time to time > and yet, that obstruction is beautiful in its light, texture, color, depth, and ever-changing shifting patterns > those patterns are not separate from sky > yet > they are not sky either > 

 Sunrise on the second morning was not as pink, but it was equally as spectacular as its subtlety changed each moment. I watched transfixed as the textured clouds caught an endless rainbow of colors and tones as the sun slowly rose above the horizon. 

Sunrise on the second morning was not as pink, but it was equally as spectacular as its subtlety changed each moment. I watched transfixed as the textured clouds caught an endless rainbow of colors and tones as the sun slowly rose above the horizon. 

Gayatri Mantra

Om Bhur bhuvah suva
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devaysa dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah pracodayat

Om. Earth, sky, space.
let us reflect on the most excellent light
of that radiant, divine source
which guides our spirit.