Lately this has been my mantra, my guiding mission. It sounds as difficult to manifest as surrender, which is essentially what it is. So mostly it’s been a process of getting out of my own way, of sidestepping my habitual self-sabotaging ways, & of seeking support for my dissolution. For blossoms seem to me to be some of the bravest beings I’ve encountered.
Blossoms are a vision of giving it all away.
They open in shape, fragrance & color. They invite in with the uncensored delight of their brightest & most beautiful selves. And then they die.
This was were I was stuck, I recently realized at a shamanic workshop where I made a journey to the negative core belief that was holding me back from fully manifesting in this life. I came back from that inner-intrepid journey with the vision of the blossoming flower cut down. It seems I have some deep memory of being cut down, should I dare to unfold from tightly-held bud into flagrant blossom.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”– Anaïs Nin
So if I let all mySelf be seen, even privately, I would die. This may sound extreme & so unlikely as to be ridiculous, but then that seems to be the value of making these negative core beliefs known. Bringing them out into the light, in the form of words, often reveals how flimsy their foundations are. I’ve never been a big one for working out past lives (I reckon there’s plenty to unravel & storify in this life), but I get the sense that the intensity & the power of these beliefs may have been established in other lifetimes where they weren’t just words. They were lived experiences. Like women in other times being their witchy selves & being burned alive for it. I don’t want to dwell there though. What I want to point out is how bewitching that darkness can be, how easily it can hold me back. Yet I seem to have reached a point where there is now greater risk in remaining tight in the bud than there is in blossoming.
And my body, my beautiful, faithful animal body, is all-ways doing its very best to manifest what I believe.
It listens so closely to me & only speaks loudly if I’m not reciprocating a careful ear to the language it speaks.
Recently my body has given me an experience of this belief–that if I blossom, I will be cut down. In nearly 20 years of increasingly regular practice (14 years of teaching), I have never injured myself in yoga. And, as far as I know, no one has been injured by my teaching. That is how slow & careful I am–how closely I listen to my body & am determined to stay centred (or return there if I fly off) by using my breath as a bridge between mind & body. So this whole thing has startled me & also reminded me how important it is to continually remain humble. And also to avoid using words like never or ever!
I have been in practices where I have stepped onto the mat uncentred & for the entire time I have not been centred. Perhaps by the end I finally landed squarely within my skin again. This was how I was when I went to an acro yoga class last week. The difference here, that would make all the difference in the world, is that it was not only myself I was contending with. In feeling responsible for holding another person aloft, I dropped even farther from my centre as I prioritized the safety of the Other over my own stability. I imagine this is what parents do naturally for their children. It’s a form of love, yet it can be short-sighted. I hear from parents how challenging it is to make, & take, time & space for themSelves. Yet when they do, it not only serves to restabilize them, it benefits everyone else. It’s that whole ‘put on your own oxygen mask before your child’s’ idea. And children are sponges, learning by absorbing. So when a parent prioritizes herself first, the child learns to value himself in a way that is harder to teach in words.
So much of what I’ve been doing in the past 15 years has been to remove the obstacles & baggage that I might unconsciously pass on to a newborn. Birthing is revolutionary in that it holds within it the potential for liberation. Birthing myself has been the priority, so that I might then more cleanly birth a child without piling the poor thing high with my unaddressed issues. Of course, of course, there is all ways more to clear, more to the process of jivanmukti–liberation in this lifetime. And now I am at the edge of what is possible physically, in terms of even conceiving a child. So, like an artist at the easel, I must say it is good enough. I have done enough.
I am enough.
Which brings me back round to blossoming. (And while I write this Jolie Holland sings “enjoy yourself–it’s later than you think.”) In order to open into the idea of opening out to the world, of holding nothing back, I have had to gain a wider view. And this is where Hawk came in. I was driving many hours from having opened myself to love with a man I’ve known for more than 2 decades, when I, unthinkingly, stopped for a dead bird on the side of the road. I prayed over it & then put it in my trunk/boot & contacted someone who could tell me the most appropriate approach to this beautiful bird (it will ultimately wing its way to the Seneca Nation).
I was in love with it. I cannot describe the awe it stirred in me, & the sorrow at its death. Blood over its heart, but otherwise unmarked, wings outstretched, eyes closed, its belly glowing soft & white with small brown triangles, its most amazing talons, its back-breaking black beak.
Hawk is the messenger so I sharpened my awareness to what I’d been thinking when I stopped for it & then to what messages it might be bringing over the days that followed. They were unmistakable. As unmistakable & impact-able as a collision.
Aside from feeling wobbly & uncentred when trying to fly two full-grown men at the acro yoga, I did not notice any particular physical injury from the class. Afterwards I was alarmingly uncentred emotionally but waded through that with a modicum of success–meaning I didn’t do or say too much that I later regretted–& I attributed it to not having eaten enough. Still, I didn’t connect what I felt & worked through with the flying yoga practice itself. Until later. Until I could gain that wider perspective.
Sitting all those hours in the car, or the experience with the hawk, or both are what brought the imbalance into sharp relief. I became aware of how the hawk would have died in flight at possibly the same time that I was injured in flight. Acro yoga is also called flying yoga. As its wings opened like petals unfurling, it was cut down. Proof of my negative core belief, right? And that’s the thing with fears–they call their manifestation towards them. I hadn’t adequately re-lease-ed myself from the grip of that fear of being cut down, so I had one more dramatic this-life experience of it. After blossoming in body & heart & mind to this man, I then experienced the self-fulfilling prophecy/belief of being cut down. By the time I arrived at my destination my body was starting to seize up & feel sore. By 4am the next morning I couldn’t find any position of comfort & I couldn’t breathe fully. It would be another 36 hours before I could take a full-body breath again & partway through the ordeal I nearly passed out just trying to sit up.
In those long hours I became immobilized. It was as though I needed to feel the familiar territory of bud again, of being held tight. Containment being equated with safety. So literal was this that I could not move without sharp & shooting pain behind my heart–as though I’d been pierced with a bayonet & hadn’t yet died. I could only lie down flat, left arm tucked in like a broken wing, whole body still & breath shallow like a bird that’s hit the glass, wrapped in electric-warm blankets & then bound at the breast to further stabilize the dislocated rib & disturbed diaphragm. I was in a cocoon watching how much my body wanted to tighten at the pain & practicing releasing into it instead. Watching myself restructure just the way that the caterpillar becomes jelly in the cocoon–loses all trace of its former self–and then emerges carefully, stickily, some time later as an entirely new creature.
There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly. — R. Buckminster Fuller
Ah, the relativity of progress, of success. Today, for me, success is being able to move at all, to sneeze with only nominal wincing, and to extend beyond my immediate needs for metamorphosis into the wider world of meaning-making & connection with others through this writing. What I have found, having so little pain or illness in my life (at least for such a long, long time now) is a renewed experiential appreciation of what it means to be in pain, to be injured, to not feel whole.
And gratitude. As fear fell away & I accepted the pain & the inevitability of death–though I steered clear of inviting it in by the very dropping of that fear–then gratitude overtook me. As waves of weeping washed me clear, I felt the immense support of all-that-is. All the many beings who helped to heal me, to make me whole again, both seen & unseen.
Like Hawk trusts its wings implicitly & trusts the winds that lift it aloft, I am learning to trust the longer journey. I am learning to trust that the dissolution of one blossom back into the chthonic source does not mean The End, but rather only one passage on the seasonal spiral of nature’s cycles. There will be other summers in which to blossom, so hold nothing back in your blossoming now.
“I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.”
― Dawna Markova,
In the northern hemisphere we are finishing up the myoga Season of Fullest Summer–Blossoming open the heart with Anahata. Blossoming now, whether it’s into a more open back-bend, into receiving the love offered you, deepening gratitude for what-is, or releasing in some other way from tightly-held bud, supported by earthy roots, is brave, brave work. Where do you see yourSelf blossoming in your life now? Have you yet breathed into your bravery?