Full Moon, Thinking, and Death
So, it was a full moon yesterday. As much of a yogi as I am, I am not steeped in astrology. However, I did live in Costa Rica for many years, and in my little town, it seemed there were more astrologers than stars in the sky. I was constantly reminded of the new moon and full moon arrival dates. There were gatherings, potlucks, and celebrations based on the planetary line-up. Some things I learned were: technology and communication would be tricky during Mercury retrograde, the new moon served as fertile ground for ‘planting seeds’, setting intentions, and introspection, and the full moon was energizing and a great time to manifest my deepest desires and step out into the world. I knew the basics, and that was enough. I trusted it, especially as I began to take notice of my own personal shifts during these times. It may be a total coincidence, but I started to document my sleep patterns, and each full moon, precisely two nights before the actual full moon, I just can’t sleep. My brain becomes super active, and thoughts, worries, anxieties, etc. seem to take over. Sound familiar? If it sounds too ‘voodoo’ to you, take a moment to consider the power of the moon: the moon has the ability to rearrange the ocean tides. We as humans are comprised of at least 80% water (some suggest even 90%). If the moon has this much of an effect over us, we can expect physiological shifts in response to this magnetic ‘tug’. Just do me a favor and don’t use the moon and astrology as an excuse for being an ass. Meditation on fluctuating emotions is the goal. ‘Remain calm within the storm’ is another way to harness the energy of the moon.
This brings me to last night. I was at my friend’s house for dinner, and after our meal we picked some fresh mint from his garden and made tea to sip while sitting outside looking at the moon. We began to talk about thoughts (my idea of a perfect Saturday night… tea, moon, and philosophical discussion). In yoga, the second sutra reads ‘yogash chitta vritti nirodahah’, which translates from Sanskrit to English as ‘Yoga is the cessation of mind stuff’, or ‘Yoga is the stilling of the mind’. Many people misinterpret this sutra as meaning that to achieve ‘yoga’ or ‘balance’ or ‘peace’, one must stop thoughts. That is not the intention of this sutra. As human beings, we have thoughts. As long as we are part of the material world, i.e. the body, the earth, etc., we will have thoughts. Think of a clear blue sky. We cannot expect the sky to never have clouds. Clouds will pass by… even storms will come. Those are all temporary. Above the clouds is always the clear blue sky. That is permanent. The clouds are storms are temporary. If we can learn to view our thoughts as passing clouds and continuously come back to our ‘crystal clear blue sky’, we may find more peace. But even this concept doesn’t necessarily dispel the method for non-identification with thoughts. For example, when I have thoughts, even though I am consciously aware that they are just thoughts, I may find myself identifying with them. If I am worrying about something, I will start feeling stress in my body, and I may lose sleep or my digestion may be affected. My thoughts create a physical reaction. Much of this is based on my mental conditioning. All thoughts are is a combination of different mental conditionings. If we are truly present, there is no thought, because there is no pre-conceived belief system as to how things ‘should’ be. There is only now. When we can fully see that now is all that exists, emphasis on thoughts will diminish.
It’s not that thoughts are innately bad. We need our mind in order to plan, create, organize our lives, etc., however if we blindly follow and believe every thought we think, we are destined for suffering. We are only a continuation of our past. We are not fully open to the limitless potential each moment offers. Trust me; if I were to follow every thought I had, I would be living a much different life. I chose to follow my intuition and question my thoughts. My recent meditation practice has consisted of becoming a detective. Yes! I now am super curious about my thoughts. Instead of resisting and burying thoughts and deeming them as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, I have chosen to befriend them and simply observe what comes up. I smile as each thought passes and notice any physical sensations they cause. It is a marvelous practice, as well as a scary one. When I release my grip on my thoughts, I feel totally empty. ‘Who am I when I stop identifying with my thoughts and beliefs?’ In my opinion, the idea of meditation is a double-edged sword. People say they want peace of mind, but true peace of mind requires a death of sorts… dying to the past… dying to pre-conditioned beliefs. It requires becoming totally new, unfiltered, raw, and vulnerable. It requires stepping off the edge of the island and diving into the crystal blue ocean and becoming one with that beautiful body of water that you already are.