Tonight, for the second night in a row, I am uncharacteristically sleepless. I don’t know what’s up with that. Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to find out. I am certain that being on the threshold of a new year has me reflecting on the past year and the one to come. To the extent that people come together in a special way around this time of year, things may be arising from some essential conversations that I have had.
Particularly since participating in Cate Stillman’s Yogidetox, I have been very attuned to Dina Charya, or the Ayurvedic daily rhythm. This means getting to bed at a decent hour. That time is past, and when that happens, energy rises.
Normally, I might view this as a problem to fix, and friends, the computer is the last place I should be. Neither should I take this as another opportunity to beat myself up. But particularly after talking about light and dark, with so many, today and other days around this Winter Solstice, I am rather inspired by my recollection of this Rumi poem.
Search the Darkness
Sit with your friends; don’t go back to sleep.
Don’t sink like a fish to the bottom of the sea.
Surge like an ocean,
don’t scatter yourself like a storm.
Life’s waters flow from darkness.
Search the darkness, don’t run from it.
Night travelers are full of light,
and you are, too; don’t leave this companionship.
Be a wakeful candle in a golden dish,
don’t slip into the dirt like quicksilver.
The moon appears for night travelers,
be watchful when the moon is full.
-Rumi, translated by Kabir Helminski
Indeed, considering the “friends on chat” window in Facebook, there are many friends now staring at their bright screens, night travelers reaching out to one another across the ether. But perhaps it is just so Tantric, to embrace opposites as having a fundamental unity, or to pursue an opposite action without dogmatic compulsion. It may be necessary to be a rebel, as Cate Stillman suggests, and to follow such calls where they lead. What is here? What is to be explored? How does my life speak now? What is the constellation of these bright lights I call friends trying to illuminate for me?
Two days before the Solstice, I went on my morning walk. It was bitterly cold and an effort to get up and out, to participate in that act of the Dina Charya, especially for a kapha like me. A crescent moon, just visible above the treetops, was my continual companion, playing hide and seek. I turned onto the this short little street I consider a spiritual epicenter, because it contains my church, a yoga studio, and the former site of a tree about which I have blogged. There was just enough frost scattered on the dark ground, illuminated by available light, to give the appearance of stars. I imagine, I invent, but realistically doubt that those diadems were illuminated by what little moon shone, but those hearing this story like to imagine so. It reminded me of what my beloved teacher said about finding the tejas in the tamas, the divine luster in what is heavy and dense and drags us down. This view has been so practically useful on so many occasions that have required just that extra ounce of humanity and compassion from me, when I have really been push to my limit, like that exceedingly uncomfortable yoga pose. So what if I did not take that time to respect the daily rhythm? What if I allowed momentary discomfort to dissuade me? What if I did not sit with and search the darkness? I would not have had that pivotal moment, which has sustained me from then to now. I would not be able to offer it back out from my solitude it to my night companions, far flung as they may be.
Of course, follow a daily rhythm and get some sleep. But when necessity arises, perhaps see what light may be in darkness.