Extra Grace Required Blog Post: Starfish
January 30, 2017"Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures." Genesis 1:20
When I was young, my favorite summer outing was an entire day spent at the beach. My mother would pack a picnic lunch, and while she watched the younger children and wrote letters under a sun umbrella, I played in the waves with the “big” kids and built sand castles with large moats that filled with seawater as the surf came in. Our favorite beach was not the wide sandy swath near the boardwalk, crowded with well-oiled sunbathers sprawled on their towels listening to transistor radios, but the partly rocky beach further along the coast where we had found tide pools. As a child I typically spent half the day playing in the water companionably with my siblings, and the other half of the day, belly down on a large rock, staring into a tide pool, watching small crabs scuttle about, poking my finger into sea anemones, and intently searching the pool with my gaze for starfish and sand dollars, content to be still and watch the activity in the miniature water world beneath me.
It strikes me now, many years later, that my long-ago child self was happiest with a day that balanced action with inaction, community with solitude, exertion with observation. How I wish that young girl’s intuitive wisdom about how to live in the present showed up more often in my life today! I know full well that my adult self is likely to spend too much energy during a beach day, brushing sand from my body and clothing, distracted by thoughts about what I will make for dinner that evening, reviewing in my mind tomorrow’s schedule, calculating the time I should leave the beach to avoid traffic, and so on; my own head interfering with my ability to be fully present to the joy of God’s creation and the blessing of a day at the beach.
Balance Inward & Outward Energy
In this week’s practice, The Practice of Removing Masks, we use the forceful, outward energy of Lion’s Breath, to help rid our selves of the layers of ego, regrets from the past, and anxiety for the future that keep us from being present in our own lives. Letting go of these distractions, our attention is free to see the evidence of God’s abundant love before us. In your faith-integrated yoga practice, consider balancing Lion’s Breath with an inward-looking, resting asana such as Child’s Pose. Just as the out-going surf reveals life within the tide pool, take advantage of the quiet that follows powerful Lion’s Breath to be still and observe your own inner world, where the authentic self, clinging like a starfish to the rock of our Lord, waits to be found.