Let the water settle and you will see moon and stars mirrored in your being.”
Observing the gradual waxing of the moon this month, I reflected on how this celestial body might offer timely support in our yoga practice. Everyone who knows me has heard me talk about the moon and moonlight, and about the cool, calm, nourishing, healing qualities that we might link with as we focus on the image of the moon. I love this image of the moon and the real possibilities meditating on its qualities offer as an antidote to the often overheated lives we live in the 21st century.
The association of the moon with coolness, nourishment and healing in yoga comes from its ancient roots in the Veda-s. The Veda-s, a vast collection of scriptures in the Sanskrit language, are the oldest record of the Indian culture.
One of my favorite Vedic chants is a salutation to the moon. This mantra (a word which itself means “that which protects” ), can be roughly translated: “Nectar from the full moon nourishes the healing herbs.” The beautiful images of “nourishment” and “healing” are linked to the full moon and received by the herbs, all plants, and then ultimately by us.
When we meditate in yoga, we link to an “object” that has positive qualities we would like to bring into our life. But meditation isn’t easy for most of us. What is most challenging about meditation is our mind. I love these lines from Rumi: “It is agony to be still; the spool turns when mind pulls the thread…,” and the spool is often turning at a dangerously high speed for many of us.
But we are reminded by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra that we have tools to help us quiet the rough waters of the mind. When we practice appropriate yoga poses, consciously linking movement and breath, the mind become less distracted. When we practice regulating the breath in an appropriate pranayama, the mind can settle. When we use sound in a chant, the mind can focus. By doing this, we create space in the mind so it has the possibility of linking to the chosen image or concept. We have set the stage for meditation.
What I am suggesting here is that in this season of heat, with lives overcooked by work, demands at home, social activities, and 24 hour news, focusing on the moon in meditation, with its cool, nourishing, healing, calming light, can move our bodies and minds to a deeper, quieter, more peaceful place. We might use a picture of the full moon or the moon in one of its phases, of the light of the moon, of the moonlight reflected on water, or of any other image that evokes the moon and/or moonlight. Then we continue to focus on this image, eyes closed, letting it fill our awareness.
When meditation becomes an exploration in a regular practice, without judgments and expectations, we begin to notice the effects. As we are all unique individuals, how we experience such a practice will vary from person to person. But, I think you will notice something. And, if Rumi is right in his quote beginning this blog, it will be good.
If you would like to explore yoga meditation or a meditation on the moon more intentionally, please let me know. I am planning a workshop on this topic in the fall and am available for working with you individually to develop a personal practice.