“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
The two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.” - Rumi, Birdsong
Stepping into a frozen paddock with the Sun gently glimmering through streams of Clouds, all three geldings lifted their heads and began making their way towards me. Luca stepped into a light trot with his beautiful white mane tossing about in the crisp morning air. Striding along a still snow-laden ground, they made their way to me. We greeted each other, welcoming in a new day in a new year.
With my body facing the same direction as Luca's, leaning his head over my shoulder and wrapping his powerful neck around my torso, he began to squeeze his chin into my heart. Moments such as this are the ones I cherish the most. They are the moments where I am aware of nothing else but love. Undefined, unconfined, expansive love!
Rumi muses "your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding," the kind of contracting and expanding you might be blessed with by a Horse hugging you. This is the same kind of contracting and expanding we feel every time we consciously bring our awareness to our breath.
Inhale and exhale. Expand and contract. Open outward and draw inward.
One of the reasons I have personally come to love the physical practice of yoga asana (postural movement) is due to the deep inherent relationship we're capable of experiencing between our body, our breath and the Universe. It's not a relationship expressed through grandiose gesture, but rather subtly and grace.
When stepping onto my mat, I like to remind myself that I am not ever taking a breath in. In fact, I'm receiving the breath from the atmospheric pressure outside my body - from the Universe. And as a gesture of gratitude, I'm able to reciprocate that gift by releasing my breath back out in the form of an exhale. In this way, we are both breathing the world, and the breath of the world is breathing us.
This is a simple thought, and yet the profundity of such a suggestion penetrates layers of consciousness. This incredible animating force that has become such a mundane and automated part of our existence, can, if given our awareness and attention, become something wholly awakening and life affirming.
When I step onto my mat and feel my breath moving my body (not the breath simply accompanying my seemingly mechanical movements) I feel held by something larger and all pervading - something that I can never fully articulate, but, rather, something I need to feel with every miraculous cell in my body.
With every contraction and expansion of the breath I encounter my own being-ness, my own small existence in an infinite Universe of wonder. Every time I remember this fact I feel as I am bird taking flight. I feel loved because I am alive. I feel my place in the place of all things because I cannot ever stop myself from breathing lest I choose to die.
So here is my New Year's Invitation: Stop what you're doing RIGHT NOW. Look away from your electronic device. Let your field of vision expand. Close down your eyes, and WAIT for the inhale to find you. Wait to feel that powerful force of breath fill your lungs, and then with all the love inside of you, send an exhale back out.
And as our wonderful shampoo bottles suggest - wash, rinse and repeat!
I wonder what our world might look like, what our world might feel like, what our world might be like, if all human beings stopped and stilled themselves long enough to feel their sacred place in everything... If all human beings felt the sacredness and divinity in all of life. Every Bird and blade of grass, every Horse and Cockroach, every Squirrel and Bear, every Tree and Flower, every droplet of Rain and gust of Wind, every shining Star and stunning Rainbow.
I just wonder.
Perhaps we can all honor the life we are given with every breath we receive by wondering a world such as this into being. And what better way to begin such a journey than to invoke the assistance of a larger collective ceremony that welcomes in possibility and potential with the start of a "New Year".
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