Restoring Balance: Reflections on Equinox

Admittedly, I was driving back from a day at the beach and did not watch the presidential debates.

Even politics removed, one doesn’t have to look far to see the flaring of polarity in our world at this time.  There is, I am sensing, the sometimes desperate-feeling need to recalibrate and balance back to center.  This is why the debates occurring just days after the fall equinox, which was last Thursday (Sept. 22nd) has seemed bizarrely beautiful and appropriate.  The equinox marks the transition into fall, that poised moment between the poles of summer’s passion and winter’s austerity.

The message of Equinox, for me, has been a call towards balance—which is not a fixed unwavering point, inherently fragile in it’s inflexibility—but rather that spaciousness where the full range of what is possible can be held as one whole.  In true balance, polarities don’t have to exist at the exclusion of the other, but can be held in paradoxical simultaneity.  This can be experienced in the body (not surprisingly) in balancing poses such as Tree pose or Warrior III, where a rigid holding to a fixed center is actually a liability.  Any slack-liner, bike-rider, or child learning to walk knows this too—it’s the suppleness of joints and the body's capacity to calibrate this way and that around one’s center of gravity that keeps the body standing.  The physical body, like the natural world, moves in orbits, seasons and spirals.  

This is true in considering our relational and energetic bodies as well: I remember literally the exact moment when I realized (not intellectually, where of course what I’m about to say sounds obvious, but in my heart and being) that for my experience of something to be true, it didn’t mean that someone else’s experience of the same thing, though vastly different, couldn’t also be true.  Many things can be true at one time because we are all of us many things: light and shadow, joy and sorrow, beauty and pain; in fact, one thing many spiritual traditions including the Yoga tradition say, is that the entirety of the universe’s realm of possibilities is contained in every aspect and atom of creation.  From this, the practice becomes one of trusting and sensing into that reality that beneath the whole range of extreme and seemingly disparate expressions of who we are and how we can be lies, as educator and activist Parker Palmer says, a Hidden Wholeness.

I’m particularly aware of the call to balance as I prepare for our first Teaching Yoga to Vulnerable Populations workshop, happening this Sunday, and for the Chanting with the Goddesses of Yoga series, starting October 10th.  Though ostensibly starting at opposite poles--symbols, myth spirituality vs the nittty-gritty of hands-on anti-oppression and anti-racism work through yoga outreach--the questions I am asking myself and will be asking our community are connected:  How do we live a balanced, undivided, authentic life, informed equally by our feminine and masculine aspects?  How do we create truly balanced, equitable, self-reflective community of accountability AND grace? How does our understanding of Spirit/God/dess and our relationship to her inform how we move and act in the world?  What does it look like to dismantle the inner hierarchy as we simultaneously address the outer hierarchical structures that keep benefitting the few at the expense of the many?  How might that inform how we engage with the so-called “people on the margins”? And who ARE those "people on the margins" anyway? 

Or in other words: how are we being called to the “outer limits” of ourselves, our community, and our world in order to welcome back home—and, as a consequence or a motive, to recognize ourselves in—what has swung or been pushed to the extremes?  

Consider a contemplative pause here at the Equinox—and in any moment that feels off-centered or out of balance—to touch into that hidden wholeness amidst polarity, division, and a sea of apparently irreconcilable parts.  What’s out of balance for you or for our world?  Where are you being called to hold polarity with more wonder, welcome and love?  Like life that is sustained by the breath that has to empty in order to fill, our one divine nature speaks in the mysterious pulse of light and shadow, revelation and concealment, dissonance and resonance.  What might it be like to trust that wherever you are journeying right now in this orbit—far from the center, or nestled close to home—that there is an underlying Presence holding all things in Balance?

In wonder and reverence,