leave-taking

I am on the cusp of leaving home to travel. This journey will take me to finally meet my grandson in person (he’s 13 months old now) and to be reunited after 18 months with his parents, and another of my sons. Anticipation of this journey has taken me into reflecting on what it is to leave, to arrive, to leave again…

Life is a series of leave-takings. And the arrivals – are they perhaps just preparation for the next leaving? It’s a grey, rainy day today, and I wonder if my contemplation has become tainted with a sentimental melancholy. But there is an undeniable truth here. In my sitting practice this morning I felt the exhalation as a leaving. As I focused on it I knew it as a preparation for the moment when I will leave this body.

Maybe all our living, all our breathing, all our journeying is a preparation for that leave-taking.

In my mind, this is not at all a morbid contemplation. It’s a reality check. A revisiting of the notion that – as Hamlet says – the readiness is all. No growth ever happens without this shedding of the old and a stepping into the new.

Lord Śiva holds the damaru in his right hand, creating the pulsating beat that brings everything into being. Simultaneously, his left hand holds agni, the fire of destruction and dissolution. Since the hands are the motor organs of the heart, this is where creation and destruction have their source.

May all your journeys be blessed. May we all come to rest in the dynamic stillness at the heart of the whirling tāndava dance of life.

Om Namah Śivaya.

how can we know the dancer from the dance?

O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer,

Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

(W.B.Yeats  Among School Children)

Today’s Bharatnatyam class with Supratimji tapped into the mystery of embodiment.

It started innocently enough, with me showing him a step we had worked on previously. He wasn’t satisfied. He gave me cue after cue in an attempt to get me to truly inhabit the movement.

He had me sit down and find an internal focus. Once I felt established in that, I was to initiate the arm and eye movements. I slowly began to move. I experienced the feeling that it was the surrounding space that lifted my arm. Not me, moving, but just movement. The sweep of the arm, the drishti or gaze: no longer just graceful movements that I was doing. The dancer, and the dance coalescing…

After this he had me move on to explore the asamyukta hasta mudras – the single hand gestures – from this same consciousness.

Supratim: When you take the hand position of, for example, triśula – you must feel the energy coursing through the three raised fingers. If you do not, then it’s not right. When the energy finds its path, the gesture will be right. You must feel this.

The application of this is all-encompassing. Yogāsana, Bharatanatyam, holding my grandson – it touches everything in this ecstatically beautiful, embodied existence. W.B.Yeats’ final question sums it up:

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

Shiva Nataraja Stock Illustrations – 553 Shiva Nataraja Stock  Illustrations, Vectors & Clipart - Dreamstime

heart space

Perhaps when contemplating liminal space one cannot help being flooded with images and associations! After all, this is the in-between space, the space pregnant with possibility.

An image of Natarāja – the Cosmic Dancer – comes to mind.

In His upper right hand he holds the damaru, a small hand drum that symbolizes the pouring forth of creation. In his upper left hand he holds agni, the sacred fire representing dissolution. Creation and destruction. And where do these meet?

In the liminal heart space of the Divine Dancer.

The quiet at the centre of the maelstrom of life.

Om namah Śivaya.

25  handmade dancing Shiva Natraj statue Indoor outdoor image 0
Natarāja, the Cosmic Dancer