The longest day of the year, a midway point before dwindling back to darkness. Sunlight drenches the northern hemisphere and in the Rocky Mountains there is a surge of optimism and life. A opportune time for reflection, to look around and engage with outward and inward observation.
This year I look back and feel astonished by the metamorphosis, and yes, I recognize how pretentious that sounds. I was of the option for many years that spiritual dialogue was a load of nonsense and teachers should lead the class and move on. No need to sprinkle in conversation about how magical the universe is or to learn how to “peel back the layers”. Needless to say, the joke is on me. As it happens, summer solstice lands around my birthday, and on this glorious, bright June afternoon I can’t help but laugh at the irony of it all.
The truth is, it’s incredibly irritating to hear someone tell you to “trust in life” when things feel desolate or void of hope. When you’re at the bottom physically, emotionally, spiritually. Maybe your health has gone out the window or you live in a cycle of toxic relationships, maybe you’re broke, uninspired, confused. It’s hard for the rational mind to understand how folding yourself like a piece of origami might lead to happiness. Believe me, I get it. I was that person, and at the peak of it all I wanted to punch anyone who didn’t buy into my “poor me” saga. In those years I made a good run at the self-sabotage spectrum, from toxic relationships, to substance abuse, living dead broke and finally suicidal. I hated myself and it felt like there was no way out.
Many lessons later, I am that obnoxious yogi who became completely and entirely blown away by life. The sheer magnitude of possibility, the alchemy of mind, body and spirit. The ability for a person to reinvent. The elegance and fragility of this planet, of all living things and the captivation of places left untamed. But getting to a place of deep, inexplicable appreciation was a ugly and excruciating process. It started one day when I rolled out my mat and made the decision I would deal with my shit, and thus the disastrous journey began.
I’d like to point out that it’s more than just showing up on the mat. You have to make a conscious decision to show fully and purposefully. All of us carry baggage, a story, a trauma of some form. There isn’t a person on the planet who is free from the obligation of striving for improvement. It’s taking the initiative of wading through the mud day after day after day until, alas, you start to have moments where lights flicker back on, reawakening your true spirit— before it was encumbered by the conditioning and struggles of life. It requires becoming fascinated by the physical discomfort, the thoughts it conjures, and the recognition of your internal dialogue. How are you conditioning your nervous system in those moments of effort? Beyond the physical, are you willing to get quiet with yourself? Are you willing to sit with your feelings, in silence, without movement? That’s what it takes, every single day. Most people aren’t willing to cultivate that kind of discipline, especially since looking at your darker bits involves repeatedly taking a bat to your ego.
I implore you, from the bottom of my heart, if on this day you look around and don’t enjoy what you see, cast aside the coziness of comfort and complacency. Take it upon yourself to change the trajectory. And if you look around and feel blissful contentment, then dig around in eagerness for more. This life is simply too precious to stay stagnant. We all posses the opportunity to have the fullest, brightest, most fulfilling existence, and no one can make it happen but ourselves.