The friendly darkness

My favourite yoga nidra CD is from Swami Nirajanananda Saraswati. He has an abrupt tone that demands I freaking relax, demands I let go, kind of a tough love thing going on. Anyways, he's to the point and clear and there is probably a pranic energy pushing his words through to me that I find lacking in some others.  It's always an otherworldly experience and I feel my body and mind realign itself every time. I consider it a part of my medicine kit. 

I have been doing this session for years. The book on Yoga Nidra was one of the first I picked in India in 2003 and it has never left my side. I felt like I had discovered a miracle, a little gateway to another side. I'm still in wonder about how effective something so simple can be.

During my relationship with this book, I've focused on the different parts at different times. At first, I was drawn to the auto-suggestion of being able to "drop" my body, then the unusual visualisations he gives you, and lately it has been the attention placed between the eyebrows, or third eye. He calls this the chidakash or the dark space in front of the closed eyes.  He says watch this space, the inner space with detachment, rest your mind in this warm and friendly darkness. I found this last line to be intriguing. 

From Wikipedia - Chidākāsha means 'mental space' in which all gross and subtle activities of the consciousness take place; it is the sky of consciousness, everything dies and evaporates in this space of consciousness, everything is reduced to its essence in this space. Even the mind (conditioned consciousness), along with intellect and ego, merges in this space of unconditioned Pure Consciousness through the paths of devotion, knowledge and action. It is also associated with the ajna chakra, the guru chakra, positioned in the stomata behind the centre of the forehead.

It has been an interesting week, one of stillness and a sinking, heavy feeling of the year moving through me. I have body aches, headaches, a sluggish digestive system and I'm breaking out. I can't sleep at night because I'm having such strange experiences, both in dream and half slumber. I look terrible. I feel terrible. And the fog before my mind is thick and unrelenting. I'm thankful for the practise's I've done beforehand to be able to detach. I know better than to try and shift it. I'm observing from afar and keeping still. It would be perfect to do a cleanse right now but I'm not in my space.

Just as fog is not uncommon in the natural world, perhaps confusion and lack of clarity are also part of living.
— "Discernment" Henri Nouwen

Stillness can be a scary place. Pancha karma, Ayurvedic cleansing techniques, consider it a prime part of healing. In sitting still we allow the shit to come to the fore. And it's wise to seek a sacred space and help along the way. When I think of  Joe Campbell's The Hero's Journey I think it could be translated, Ayurvedically, as Vata in the mind, or fear, the opportunity to overcome. To work with the fear that has found itself stuck in the crevices, it helps to have established practises that keep you strong, a faith of daily care and learning to be objective in the feelings that arise. It's really hard to find this space in the middle of your personal hell and will mostly likely lead to finding distractions. That would be too bad because this is your NY times best seller opportunity. 

Digestion plays a role in fighting the shadow forces. It eats and burns but requires rest and circulation to do so. Once your appetite comes back you can literally feel the battle being won inside. It is a very good idea to make friends with your appetite for it will guide you when to lay low and when you can move forward. I've been skipping meals when it feels particularly slow and closed for business and amongst the holiday revelry, trying to find ways to spice up my food. Black pepper is always accessible. 

All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die. I don’t know why we should expect it to. It seems fairly obvious that two sides of a mirror are required before one has a mirror, that two forces are necessary in man before he is man. I asked [the influential microbiologist] Paul de Kruif once if he would like to cure all disease and he said yes. Then I suggested that the man he loved and wanted to cure was a product of all his filth and disease and meanness, his hunger and cruelty. Cure those and you would have not man but an entirely new species you wouldn’t recognize and probably wouldn’t like.
— John Steinbeck

Confusion is becoming a sign for me that I haven't quite eaten the previous experiences of my life in order to make decisions on what to do next. For me to take on another project right now would be like snacking, which we do not like in Ayurveda because it stops the previous meal from being fully digested. It would be like half lessons learnt, or perhaps why we might go through the same experiences time and again. You don't feel like eating if you're bloated or otherwise feeling stuck in the digestive system, or you shouldn't feel like eating I should say. Perhaps we haven't learnt how to do that part in our lives anymore, take time out when something needs extra help to pass through. 

There have been a lot of butterflies in my path the last two weeks. In some ways, I'm noticing more in my present moment since I can't seem to formulate my future. I'm trying to devise the plan for my biz, my writing and my living conditions and it just ain't forthcoming. I asked my 6-year-old niece recently what she wanted to be when she was older and her reply was "I don't think I want to be anything." That comment keeps ringing in my ears the last few days. With all these do-gooders (me included!) trying to help you manifest your life, it could be that we are over intentioned (made up word) and over burdened with the need for different without finishing what we started. 

So for now, I'm just going to sit in this friendly darkness for a bit.  The reason I know what feels right is the act of comparison. As Steinbeck says, the darkness will rise up and be cut down and rise up again so I might as well make it a thing in my life and give it a place to lay it's hat.  So here's to you darkness, my old friend. The world will turn, it will soon be light.

In faith.