New Moon :: Hardship as Teacher

 

This New Moon, the second in a rare and consecutive pair of New Moons in Cancer, comes to us as a celestial reminder that we are in constant transition, every moment of every day. Inhales give way to exhales. Exhales in turn birth inhales. The ancient yogis spoke about the moment at the bottom of the exhale that is easily missed, when all the air has emptied the body before the inhale. They name it as a place where infinite possibility exists. Most people take an average of 20,000 breaths per day. That means 20,000 endings and beginnings happening, many times without us paying attention. That's a lot of space for infinite possibility to be present. At a time when the planet is months deeps in a pandemic, the new moon is a dark beacon, to remind us that change is inevitable. As a collective, we are sitting inside of that space after the exhale, waiting patiently for the bright, and powerful inhale that is on its way for all of us. 


What we need to bring to this seemingly interminable moment that we're all in is hope. Hope is an interesting thing. It can only exist when we are in a moment of hardship. Hope springs out of a time when we are experiencing suffering and yet we make the choice to stay in the knowing of what is possible. Hope is when we remember how miraculous and unpredictable life is even while we endure hardship. 

This New Moon cycle will present us with opportunities to choose despair, apathy, and self-isolation (beyond social distancing) or to look towards a bright vision of tomorrow, to day dream, and to keep returning to love. Experts say that we may experience heightened emotions during the next two weeks, especially ones that feel more energetically intense like anger, frustration, disappointment, and fear. Know that the waves of our emotions also change, and if we can ride them without becoming submerged by them, we will experience a more refined peace on the other side. 

It is when we cling to our emotions, either by taking them as truths of who we are or making ourselves "wrong" for feeling them, that we experience increased pain. Notice over the next couple of weeks the moments when you start to spiral into the depths of an emotion. Know that there are ways to relate to the feeling and to you, who is feeling the feeling, that does not cause you more suffering. If what you feel can become information for you to self-reflect, you will grow. If what you feel can become information for you to self-reflect upon and you can do it with self-compassion, you will grow and deepen your capacity to love. 

You may be presented with situations that feel like unconquerable obstacles. This may happen at work, in a relationship, or the personal place that you feel stuck. If this happens for you, know that you do not have to figure everything out by yourself. In fact, the stars are here to remind us that so many things are out of our control, and that includes the truth that the universe is always working in our favor. 

In order to grow and expand towards our highest, most vibrant selves, we need to practice discerning what is in our control and what is not. The beloved Serenity Prayer is told in various forms across spiritual traditions, and it simply asks for the ability to know the difference between the two. What we can control is how we treat ourselves and others. When this choice is made from a place of love, generosity, and awareness of the interdependence of all living things, we cannot go wrong.

The agitation and feeling of needing to get everything done yesterday may spur you to begin or pick up the pace on a project you are working on. Direct this energy towards something you really care about in your heart. Let your focus, attention, and persistence be aimed at action steps that serve you. Take some time with the questions: What do I care about right now?  What do I want to focus on in this moment? What does my heart want? 

Identifying what we care about can give us a clear compass if we start to feel lost in our emotions. You can always pause, ask these questions to your heart, and then refocus towards a direction that serves you. 

Patience will be an important quality for this New Moon up until the next New Moon in August. Patience is something that is easily forgotten about in our fast paced world. The stars are reminding us that everything in nature has a process and a timeline. That "everything" includes you. You have a unique timeline as a human being with a purpose in this world. We all have our own timelines, like 7 billion universes all walking around, navigating life together (albeit, at least 6 feet apart). 

Listening is one of the most important things we each can be doing right now. It starts in our own hearts and our own homes. Notice the moments in conversations, especially with people you are close with, when you begin to grow irritated and have an urge to interrupt to give your opinion. Consider waiting longer before you speak to let the other person's words sink in. See what it's like to listen with ears that can hear love no matter what is being said. 

Listen to the conversations you are having with yourself, and check in with whether or not it is serving you. It is a hard thing to interrupt the loop of self-criticism, but it is possible. And listening for what our thoughts are saying is the first step.

You have so much wisdom inside of you, and it is being revealed to you in every moment. We are being asked to slow everything down, listen, be patience, and all the while remember that we are love embodied.

 

NEW MOON RITUAL :: Listen In

Listening is one of the most powerful meditative practices we can do. Deep Listening is often taught in mindfulness programs, in workshops with couples and families, and as an essential part of productive conversations. We have been given ears that can hear and brains that can comprehend for a reason. We are meant to listen as a way to remember the truths that a part of us already knows. 

There is also a reason that we are social animals. We need each other to survive, and to thrive. There are a plethora of research studies that show the importance of human connection. In a time when we are unable to connect in physical spaces with so many of those we love, listening is a way into deep connection with another. 

Try this ritual every day for 2 weeks until the Full Moon as a way to connect more deeply with yourself and the world around you:

1. Find a time during the day when you can sit for 5 minutes. Set a timer. Get comfortable and close your eyes. You can do this sitting up or lying down. Until the timer goes off, listen to the sounds you hear around you. Take in what you hear. See if you can avoid clinging to a sound by making stories about it or following it into thought.

As one meditation teacher Andy Putticombe puts it, see the sounds as cars passing by on a highway. You are sitting by the side of the road with your eyes on a single point, take in the cars that pass in and out of your vision. Instead of using our sense of sight, we use sounds around us. 

Do not worry if is really quiet or there are too many distracting noises. You are simply placing yourself in the seat of witness with whatever is presented to you in that moment, without judgement or preference. Notice the sounds and let them float on.

2. Choose one person a day that you want to practice Deep Listening with. They do not have to know you are practicing. Simply choose to have a conversation where you listen before you speak, inwardly practicing Deep Listening. Set the intention before the conversation to be fully present.

Notice when you are truly connecting with the other person, if you check out, or if you begin to plan what you are going to say. Keep bringing yourself back, making yourself fully available to deeply listen with ears of love. 

Know that you are doing a brave thing that no one has to know about, but it will reap the rewards of a more engaged and connected life.