Monday Night Circle. Or Cycle

30 Oct

The Life Cycle 12 x 12

Exploring Being / Discussion Notes. Whee!

Yesterday marked the beginning of a new cycle-(a circle caught in the act of breaking its circumference to go on a journey.) A new learning session!

I think the biggest thing that came up was the way we humans entertain concepts rather than having a practical, bodily experience of our world. In so many ways we hold ourselves back from the world, as if afraid to dig in and get ourselves a little dirty. In terms of the lunar cycle, which was our discussion topic last night, it becomes apparent that we are very distant from the moon; we just don’t relate to it the way we did 10,000 years ago. Or even 200 years ago. Nor should we. Where I live, outside Chicago, our perception of the world has changed and most of us are no longer even remotely immersed in the physical world. We take our waking and sleeping cues from alarms and the end of TV shows, we don’t hunt our food, we camp out under the stars occasionally, for fun, and see the Milky Way if we’re very lucky. The Moon is a reality when it is full and bright, but most of the time, it remains a concept, an abstract idea that has little if any relevance to our daily life.

What if we revisited our ancient curiosity and wonder of this cycle, not through the eyes of our distant ancestors, but from our own modern vantage point?

What if we could use the Lunar Cycle as a metaphor? As a way of understanding and connecting to the rhythms and cycles of our physical bodies? This seems to be the junction where our modern mental world hits hard against the physical existence of our ancestors. Every bit as creative as we are, they innovated, achieved, and conceptualized, seamlessly integrated within a very present and real physical world. To me, judging by the artwork, artifacts and stone monuments left they behind, they may have had an immense sense of wonder, awe and meaning as well.

It’s easy and not fair to project one’s modern state of consciousness back onto the past, assuming similar attitudes and conditions, or idealizing or romanticizing what we can’t possibly know. So I’m going to leave it at that, while noting that I too have an immense sense of awe wonder and meaning in the face of the physical world, bordering and crossing far over into the spiritual. This I think I may have in common with a human being gazing up at the moon once upon a very, very long time ago.

For me it isn’t a conceptual, or an abstract idea, but a bodily feeling. It’s hard to put in words, as are all peak experiences or moments when we are ‘in the zone’, in ‘flow’. We are in a brain space of images, not language, ‘It was like this’ we say, falling unconsciously into the poetical, metaphorical images of myth. An embodied state of awareness arises, when I am keenly conscious of my delicious connection with, to and of the earth. It’s an experience of my bodymind, balancing the lifeless abstract provided by my mind alone. It is fulfilling, enlivening, and expanding. I am connected. This exactly, is the sore spot. Is it possible to feel connected to a world we view as out-of-control, off-kilter, disaster ridden? Is it really possible to maintain a sense balance, let alone cultivate a sense of meaning? Could following an inward focused cycle be more beneficial than following the current outer chaos?

If we take the lunar cycle as metaphor, we can discover a deeper sense of rhythm and pattern – both are deeply craved by our brain. A need of belonging, pattern recognition and our own circadian rhythms have been with us since our birth and a disruption of any of these cycles causes distress. A cyclical pattern gives us repetition, the chance to consciously begin again, the familiar patterns and signs along the way are oddly comforting.

A cycle in its oldest sense is not necessarily bound. The circle often, rather unexpectedly, opens out into a spiral, allowing for evolution, transformation and growth. This is magic – when into our old familiar ways of doing things, there suddenly appears another option, and we find our self striking out into what has all the markings of adventure.

This is the marvel of the cycle. In familiarizing yourself with a cycle (menstrual, circadian, agricultural, liturgical, lunar) you immerse yourself in the nature; the essence of the thing, and realize that here is a land, fluent unto itself.

The repetition in anticipation, the comfort in sameness inevitably give way to that auspicious moment when a dormant seed suddenly takes root. Sure, this happens every day, cycle observer or not. But when you are immersed in a cycle, paying attention to the rythm, the moment when a potential manifests into reality is easily recognized and celebrated. It’s heightened awareness. You’re on the prowl for a difference; an infinitesimal sniff of change in the air. That first sliver of crescent moon can prompt us, if we’re aware, to wonder what this particular cycle will bring. What are the possibilities ahead of us in the coming 29.5 days? Are we using conscious awareness of how we affect what happens to us- or not? Are we moving towards joy?

If we have been watching our fertility cycle and suddenly find that a seed has sprouted and at the end of this particular cycle, there will be a change; a baby – well? We start consciously caring for our self, becoming more inner focused. Metaphorically too, this seed of change, an intention- has more chance of sprouting and coming full-term if we likewise care for ourselves. With our attention- therefore energy- sacrificed on external events, how do we cultivate the inner awareness where all real change is made? How do we grow a world, let alone healthy children and adults, animals; a life, our life? Where are we expecting our blinkered, straight, goal and achievement-oriented path to lead us? Always relentlessly onward, into the light, forward, progress at all costs. Yet seeds typically sprout in the dark. And this brings us full cycle.

The second two weeks of the lunar cycle tells us after all our running around, to rest, to re-connect, to nurture ourselves. Clearly not an invitation from the linear, driven path our culture is on. A hell of a lot of good has come from our days in the sun. But basking in the reflective light of the silvery moon has a lot going for it. It allows a breathing space, a restoring in-breath balancing the out-breath of action and accomplishment, the opportunity to weigh up our situation, take stock and release what no longer is needed. Self-care. A two-week period in the moons’ monthly journey for reflection and re-connection.

Yep. Tell your boss that. I know. I get it. It’s not practical. But for our little Monday Night Circle, it’s 5 minutes a day. Attention to the cycle for 30 days, 5 minutes a day. 5 minutes of focus just on yourself, for yourself. A little bit of paying attention to your rhythms, your needs. Nothing extravagant. No big promises. Paying attention has its own way of creating small but significant change. And the changes that are created out of care, understanding and a certain quality of attention have a way of being very satisfying. The hard work is in the discipline required to make and take the time, doing the attending. What emerges depends on the kind of seed you plant, the tending and pruning you’re willing to do. We have to dig down deep and allow ourselves to climb out of our heads and spend a little time with the earth, connected to our bodies and their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Since we all have had the experience of the planting cycle, we can feel the soil in our hands, have eaten the fruits of the harvest, and are intimate with it, I added the life cycle of a flower to my Lunar Cycle. Planting and harvesting are not abstract ideas, but a reality that produces tangible fruit. Sometimes looking at a concept in a different way makes it suddenly something we can incorporate; embody; feel. That is my wish here for you. The dance of the lunar cycle as the celestial partner to the earthly plant cycle that we already know through our hands and heart. It’s about creating an opening, an opportunity for awareness, involvement.

This sense of awe and wonder manifests in us, much as Dante saw love as the mover of the planets and stars. As we tend to ourselves and practice experiencing the cycle of the moon as a visual metaphor for a new possibility, a new way of understanding our life – we may find ourselves overflowing with the meaning, awe and wonder of exquisitely small moments, observed and celebrated.

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