It's been almost two weeks since the election, and my mind continues to search for stories that help me understand what is happening. My yogic inclination is to look beyond surface appearances to the deeper dynamics at play, both in the world and in myself.
I am reminded of the Buddhist concept of bardo, which originally referred to the "intermediate" state between death and rebirth. The concept was extended to describe other transitional states, such as being born, living, dreaming, meditating, and dying. In fact, everymoment can be seen as a bardo between past and future. We are always on our way from one state to another.
Tibetan Buddhism developed a set of practices designed to prepare us for the bardo after death. Unbound from our physical body, we have the potential to see the nature of reality and choose a favorable rebirth. Metaphorically, we now have the same opportunity as a country and individuals. Assumptions, expert opinions and behavioral norms are thrown into question. The next formations have yet to arise. We are floating in the space between incarnations.
Francesca Fremantle elaborates (subscription required for the full text):
This gap is brought about by the intensity of emotional experience, which is always accompanied by an equal and opposite reaction, so that we are thrown into a situation of conflict and uncertainty. Two contrasting extremes are present simultaneously. Trungpa Rinpoche described it as being drenched with boiling hot and freezing cold water at the same time. At that very moment there is nothing to do but let go: give up trying to hold on to one extreme or the other, abandon the battle between life and death, good and bad, hope and fear. Then, in that instant of relaxation, there comes a sudden flash of realization. There is always the possibility that, in the midst of an everyday situation or at the height of some emotion, we may suddenly catch a glimpse of its essential emptiness and luminosity: a moment of sacred vision.In order to take advantage of a bardo, we need to stay steady and clear. As Einstein observed, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." Our current bardo has been fed by a potent brew of alienation, misunderstanding and anger. We will not navigate well if we stay intoxicated by these forces.
Our individual and collective actions have a bigger effect in the bardo. Therefore, yoga and self-care are more vital than ever. Not because they allow us to escape reality, but rather to develop the capacity to respond skillfully to what comes and make new choices.
At Grateful Yoga, we are renewing our commitment to offering practices that support a positive "rebirth". Particularly, we want to strengthen and celebrate the remarkable community that we are. So many of you are doing amazing, generous things with your time. If you'd like to share the nonprofit or world-changing work that you do, please drop us a line - we'll feature it in an upcoming newsletter.
As ever, and especially during this week of gratitude: THANK YOU for your continuing support and inspiration.