Weave The Web Of Presence And Rest

September 15, 2021

by Hagar Harpak

End Of Summer, Changing Colors, With The Crow

What are you focusing on these days?

Where do you find your thoughts taking you on a regular basis?

Where does your body spend most of its day? 

Where does it want to go?

What does your heart sing about?

Who and what are you showing up to?

You’ve probably figured out that I’m not the kind yogini who turns away from the world. I don’t promote negating one’s experience, or rising above it. I feel it is our responsibility as people to show up. I don’t do the kind of yoga that asks you to leave whatever is happening in your life off the mat. For me, yoga is about showing up with everything that’s going on, and working through it as I breathe, breaking it down in downdog, engaging it as I move, releasing it when it’s ready to be shed. 

I don’t think we need to stop thinking. I think we need to think more deeply. 

Meditation doesn’t require a quiet mind, it invites the mind you have into the breath, the body, the process of bonding with yourself. And I don’t think meditation is here to help me quiet the mind either. It’s definitely not my goal. Although it sure is one of the boons sometimes. 

I think of the practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation as an invitation into a conversation, a doorway into greater intimacy – with ourselves, with life, with the world. Sometimes it stirs us up. Sometimes it agitates. It activates. It wakes us up to things that were comfortably asleep before. Sometimes it’s a beautiful experience. It can be gentle. It can be fierce. It can be funny. Sometimes it’s boring. Other times our practice brings us peace in the midst of life’s intensity. 

Transcendence is not my thing. 

If peace is the goal, we tend to disregard all the other flavors. If calm is our aim, we might miss all the valuable lessons and gifts along the way. 

Daily living, the arts, and our practices are opportunities to experience ourselves in diverse and complex ways. The richer the individual experience, the more we can understand others too.  

Is the pursuit of happiness the point? Where would wisdom come from without our broken hearts? Where would art and poetry and music and good conversation be without the grief that comes with love? Where would justice be without anger? There are no mountains without earthquakes. 

I gotta let myself spin sometimes. Often stuckness is the breath before breakthrough. I need space for discomfort – it usually means growth.

And then sometimes, when the spinning goes nowhere, or when the stuckness becomes stagnation, I need to take a step back, turn away from my experience, set it aside, and give it a rest. 

Sometimes taking a break from something difficult can help us gain a broader perspective. When we put down a decision that we have a hard time making, we might be able to come back to it with fresh eyes. When we give ourselves space, we might find creative solutions to difficult struggles. 

When my daughter has a hard time with math, and the frustration gets her all tangled up, I encourage her to put her pencil down and go move her body, have a sip of water, and come back to it in a bit. 

A disruption to an unhealthy thought pattern can be life saving. Getting away from a project that feels stuck can re-spark our inspiration. 

Making space around something is necessary. Turning the space into the goal is missing out on the point. Moving away from a challenging experience can be healthy. The wisdom we gain on our time away can be exactly what we need in order to get back into the storm, and weather it like a force of nature. And sometimes never coming back to it is a good idea too. 

I want to be present, and I also need to space out sometimes, open to how life moves through me, and grounded with my boundaries. I don’t want to try to make life into something that it’s not, but I want to empower myself to transform. I want to make connections, and sometimes I need to untie some knotts. I want to turn toward my life and live the full, authentic ride of it. And I need to get more rest. 

If we move with the season, we might feel a gentle transitioning within and around us. There’s the hard work of harvest, and the quieter sound of darker nights. There’s a gathering, and  preparing for what comes next, as a shedding process slowly begins. There’s a soft whisper or a loud cry of grief that sounds itself with the end of Summer. There’s a warm invitation to soften the edges, to move slower, and it is woven into an active engagement in spinning the web of the last phase of this year.

And so we breathe into a process of integration. We forge the tools we need in the heat of the fire of our challenges, and we turn to the hearth fire to cook, to nourish and to rest. We show up to ourselves and show up for each other, and we make space for one another. We turn toward the darkness of this time of year, daring to go into the shadow, through the shedding, embracing the intensity. It is here, in lower light and a longer night, that we receive the nurturing gifts and profound insights that come through the weaving of presence and rest. 

Feel it in your breath as you engage and release, receive and offer back, collect and shed, harvest and set aside. Breathe into the fullness of this cherished life.

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