Filling the Void
It's my first week in a new town, having moved from NYC to Austin to focus on yoga, travel and all that it entails for me right now. It's slower here, no doubt, with a local news story lamenting that the new city Metro system doesn't have enough people riding it! I'll soon be parking my grateful derriere on one of the new, cushioned seats (with actual airspace between bodies) on my way to a yoga class.
I miss New York, but I'm interested to see what health and yogic possibilities lay ahead for me here. In this transitional period, where cardboard moving boxes vie for my attention along with daily responsibilities (as I write this blog, all my books sit next to me in U-Haul containers, awaiting their freedom), I can't help but feel, well, empty.
This is a specific kind of emptiness, not the windswept sensation after an emotional storm, or the primordial suspension of a deep meditation. It's more like a mixture of mourning and excitement, so evenly matched that it generates the time-standing-still feeling you have while retaining the breath after an inhale, or letting the exhale slide into a silent moment of nothingness before inspiring again.
And when I say, "inspiring," I mean breathing in and getting back to the creation of my life's work, my dharma. This is the calm before the flood, when creative elements will sweep me forward. And I have to be ready to both direct the wave and ride it into places I can't foresee.
It is scary, yet wonderful. I wonder if this could be the Middle Path the Buddha spoke of, or the "field" between happiness and sorrow that Rumi wrote about so eloquently. I think of it as The Void, taken from the Runes, the ancient Viking stones etched with symbols used by those seeking clarity. Here's one definition of The Void from the Book of Runes:
The Unknowable represents the path of Karma--the sum total of your actions and their consequences, the lessons that are yours for this lifetime. And yet, this Rune teaches that the very debts of old karma shift and evolve as you shift and evolve. Nothing is predestined. What beckons is the creative power of the unknown.
We all hit The Void at one time or another, sometimes multiple times a day. It's that pause that seems hollow but that is actually pregnant with possibility, full of creative energy, or shakti, waiting for you to decide which action to take next to direct it into form.
The Void itself is often what ignites fear: of the unknown, of letting go, of being alone, of moving to that next level of ourselves, and risking failure and public ridicule to do it. Many people never cross The Void, because of what seems an impenetrable closed door of "I can't, I shouldn't" or "I'm not enough" blocking the entrance to the bridge across.
Yet when we practice yoga with as much determination off the mat as we do on it, when we get present and focus on what really matters--living completely, passionately, and without regret--we take destiny back into our own hands, the doorway magically opens, and, Void or not ... we leap.
Here's a pose that may help you understand how solid the Void actually is, as you begin to see that you're always where you stand, and from there, you can channel this veritable ocean of energy towards your biggest, brightest goals.
Core Pose: Ankle-to-Knee Chair(Eka Pada Galavasana Preparation)
This pose leads to taking flight in the arm balance of Eka Pada Galavasana, but for our purposes, we're going to start where we are. Running too fast into the Void can cause you to miss out on the information coming at you from the core, and from your environment, a conversation that needs your full attention.
Come to the front of your mat, feet hip-distance apart. Bend both knees and generate as much lift from your lower belly as from your lower back. Keep your spine long as you ground into your left foot and lift your right knee mindfully into your chest. Don't rush; rather, make every moment of this pose an opportunity to find balance again.
Once you're stable, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Roll the thigh outward so your right knee lowers, and sit down deeper. Bring your hands to the chest, palms together in anjali mudra, which celebrates your connection to the Divine, or universal energy. Offer your heart forward as the hips move back to anchor you in this new place of balance and freedom.
Take 5-10 breaths here, then return to Chair Pose, and fold forward over bent or straight legs for a few moments before repeating the balance on the other side.