I don’t know if you heard, but there was a total solar eclipse on Monday in the States, and it felt like a holiday. We are so overworked as a society in the United States, that if there’s a reason to take a day off or even a half day, we do everything we can in our power to celebrate. We all need permission to rest anymore. We need to justify a cycle of rest. I teach Yin & Restorative yoga because it gives people permission to rest. I feel guilty when, like last week, I take a nap every day. I feel guilty because I don’t yet make enough money to not think about money all the time. Just let that shit go… Right. I feel guilty because I could always “be working.” Let that shit go. Working on it. I must have been born with some past life guilt. I don’t remember learning that emotion as a child. Ask me about shame and that’s a story I could recite from memory, but guilt wasn’t familiar to me until adulthood. Anyways, there was a total solar eclipse in the United States yesterday, and my sweet town of Boise, Idaho had 99.5% total eclipse of the heart. I had to. So yes, I cancelled my morning Vinyasa class and climbed a foothill to experience it.
This could be a piece about my light and my shadow and how the two must work together for balance and the light and shadow of the world, etc. I’m definitely feeling more called to shadow work these days, and my numbers in my yoga classes have dwindled, isn’t that interesting? But here’s what happened for me during the eclipse and what I experienced.
During the moments of totality, a few before, during and after as totality was all of two plus minutes, I found some space for me. I wandered away from my family and partner and as I turned away from the eclipse I saw her, my own shadow. It was as if she could have easily detached from my body and formed her own reality. We stared at each other it felt like, tears welled in my eyes, and I was overcome with love and compassion and stamina for this life. It wasn’t the way it looked – dense, solid; it wasn’t the visual spectacle of the solar eclipse. It was the mystery. Veils wavering. My shadow was opaque and real. It reminded me of looking in the mirror while being under the influence of psychotropic mushrooms.
When I started experimenting with hallucinogens in my early twenties, I always consumed too much. If there were one word to describe my twenties I think it would be excess. I excessively partook in most everything in life; alcohol, drugs, sex, eating disorders, exercise, work. The first warning someone gave me the first time I ate mushrooms was, “Whatever you do, don’t look in the mirror. You will look crazy!” So I ate mushrooms in the woods mostly. No mirrors, and I forgot about the warning. And then I was hallucinating moderately in a friend’s backyard and had to use the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet is always where I seem to truly feel the full awareness of my altered state. Hello wavy shower curtain. I washed my hands and without thinking about it, looked in the mirror. First a few tears, then a smile, then laughter as I truly saw myself. Real. Human. I felt so much compassion for that young woman staring back at me. Separate yet together. Since that moment, anytime I’ve found myself in that altered mental state I make sure and spend some time gazing in the mirror. It’s always a little bit of a risk, but that’s where the rewards are, right?
You know that feeling when you just know something is right or good or important? Yeah? That’s how I felt looking into my eclipse shadow yesterday. Carve out the time to write. It’s important. I don’t know why. I only know that it is. Carve out the time to sit quietly with your own breath. Take the time to fill the diffuser with essential oils. Respond to every text and phone call. Ask for help. Say thank you. Forgive. Love. These are things we don’t know why we do them, only that we must.