Those of you who join for Rise + Shine know that I often pull a card for us to guide our individual and collective inquiry. This past week, in response to the request to know what is needed right now to move forward: Acceptance.
At least Life has a sense of humor! Ask how to move forward and the response is naturally, be right where you are. This is the dance that we are always in, how to be present and also participate in life. As householders, ordinary folks, it is not our path to sit still all day (though maybe we've become a little better at that lately). Our work is in the world. And right now, as many of us are in transition out of this prolonged pause, it is so clear that there is no manual for how we must proceed. There never was.
So, instead of moving forward by trying to go back to the way things were, what if we stayed in the pause a little while longer? Not necessarily alone in our houses, though that may be in order, but in the space of not knowing. Instead of rushing ahead to recuperate, let's take our time to re-create.
There's a beautiful practice of breath-retention called Kumbhaka that is a pillar of pranayama. Between each inhale and exhale, there is a natural pause. When we practice with Kumbhaka, we extend the pause. When done skillfully, it creates a feeling of stability, ease, and clarity. It builds trust and resilience. When there is a struggle in the body or resistance in the mind, the feeling can be truly terrifying and the effect is usually to try to control more or just give up completely.
We've all been experiencing a kind of Kumbhaka, a spontaneous pause, in which we've found ourselves in this in-between place. For many of us, this has been a struggle--and not without good reason. For others, it has been truly sattvic, peaceful and harmonizing. For most, it's likely been a bit of both. But the inhale is coming, and instead of clinging to conclusions or grasping for certainties, we might instead seize the opportunity to intentionally hold our breath, to be still even as we are going ahead, to give ourselves and each other the grace to not know, but to trust that, sure as the next breath, the way forward will arrive.