Welcome to the Yoga Church Sunday Sermons
the Spring Equinox in the Context of Covid-19
This past Thursday was officially the equinox, and in the northern hemisphere we’ve moved into brighter, lighter days!
The spring equinox is usually a celebration, but in this strange global moment celebration feels a bit odd.
Still, we need to mark the moment because Mother Earth is reminding us that spring always follows winter. And this is a message we desperately need.
The spring equinox is the festival of awakening, balance, and new life. And while we’ll need to adapt our celebrations, I think we can all benefit from turning our attention toward awakening, balance, and new life.
Awakening to the Myth of Separateness
We’ve been taught (especially in the states where I live) to value individuality and independence above just about everything else. We believe we’re separate from one another. And our systems are built on our separateness.
But a virus doesn’t care about our systems and beliefs.
A spreading virus forces us to acknowledge what spiritual seekers have been preaching for thousands of years: Separateness is an illusion. It’s a falsehood. We can’t separate ourselves from one another. Our fates are linked.
There is so much bad in this moment. And more than likely, there’s more bad to come. But maybe, just maybe, we can allow this moment (this moment that none of us would wish for or want) to transform us. Maybe in this moment we can acknowledge that we are porous beings. And a system that’s unjust for any of us, must be fought against by all of us. Maybe in this moment we can feel―deep in our bones―the truth of our connection. And maybe this feeling can slowly lead to transformed belief. Which can slowly lead to transformed action.
In the final paragraph of the book You Are Therefore I Am: A Declaration of Dependence, Satish Kumar wrote:
For survival and for the good life we need humility. We come from the soil and will return to the soil. We are part of nature, neither above it or separate from it. Nature is the source of all life: the source of joy and celebration, the source of arts and imagination, the source of poetry and inspiration, the source of skills and inventions. Earth gives us experience of time and space, it gives us seasons and change. We work and rest in response to the earthly cycles. Earth grants us a sense of play, from which we derive our identity and belonging. Earth is the source of music, dance and delight. It is the source of beauty, wisdom and insight. For our existence and experience, for happiness and health, for our nutrition and nourishment, we depend on the earth. We depend on the love of the beloved, the beauty of the beautiful and the goodness of the good. Embracing vulnerability and humility, let us declare our utter dependence on the earth, and on each other: you are, therefore I am.
You are, therefore I am.
May this mantra guide us into a new future.
Like Increases Like – Balance with Opposites
Yoga’s sister science Ayurveda (an ancient medical system) offers so many teachings to help us find and maintain health. One teaching that I absolutely love is Like Increases Like. Here’s an example of what this means:
- If it’s noon in July and you’re eating chili peppers in a hot tub, you’re going to overheat! The only way to cool down is to get out of the hot tub and into a cool shower. Then you can sit in the shade and drink peppermint tea. It makes sense right? We balance ourselves with opposites…
Let’s look at another example, one a little closer to the real moment:
- If you feel fearful about coronavirus and your anxiety is through the roof and you spend your entire day alternating between the news, following every scary link on social media, and freaking out with your friend on the phone, what do you think will happen to your anxiety? It’s going to keep rising… You’ve got to pause and focus your attention in an opposite direction. Maybe a calming breath technique? Maybe gratitude in regards to your situation? Maybe the comfort of a good book or your art journal or… (again, this is where personal practice is key!)
We’re in a strange moment of pandemic. AND we’re at the equinox. My friend Sarah wrote (as the caption to a photo of her jumping on a trampoline in her backyard):
In this shifting energy, the balance between day and night perfectly aligning, I’m just gonna jump and shake my grieffy heart barefoot in the sunshine. Cuz wtf? Tears and laughter. Love and loss. Fear and trust. It’s all here for us.
Whatever you’re feeling is real. It’s important that you feel it. But please, don’t unintentionally add to your pain by getting so lost in one direction. Allow the moment of spring to inspire a sense of balance in your life.
Tune into New Life!
Spring is the season the earth wakes up. There’s new life everywhere! Buds on the trees and tiny shoots pushing up through the still cold ground.
The spring equinox marks the beginning of the active phase of the year. As daylight increases we can stretch and move. We can shake out the sluggishness of winter.
Of course, in the context of covid-19, it’s not so simple… But it’s important (in order to find balance in our physical health and mental well-being) to find someway to experience the new life of spring.
If you can, go outside and move your body. Even if this means jumping jacks on your patio!
If you can’t go outside, can you sit by an open window and feel the fresh air? Or better yet, can you dance by an open window?
Here’s a simple flowing sequence that you can use to greet the spring time sun every morning (or anytime you’re feeling sluggish during quarantine…)
And one more helpful thing:
My friend Katrina, an Ayurvedic practitioner in Bellingham, creates seasonal tip-sheets and I asked if I could share them with our community. She said of course! Click this link to download your copy of the spring tip sheet: AHC&WS Tip Sheet Spring