My teacher told me that life is full of circles, that we go round and round in ever more subtle circles, further and further inward, ever more profound; she told me that we fall and are crushed, that we emerge from the fall into something like a renewal, that we live for a time in that honeymoon period of new understanding, deeper compassion and growth and that then, once again, we begin to become troubled, confused, the path ahead obscured by weeds, perilous with potholes and befuddled by switchbacks and seeming wrong turns.  Off we go again towards a fall.  The falls can really hurt.

My teacher is a wise lady, considerably older than me; as old as my mother; my teacher stands humbly before a crowd and leads us into the quiet and personal depths of meditation; my teacher shines through the darkness of a fall, sharing the compassion grown in the falling and letting us know that all shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well, as another great woman told us.

Before the fall there is confusion and disappointment, or anger and dissatisfaction, or loss on a sometimes great scale; the period running up to a fall is characterised in my life by the feeling of struggling against a rip in the sea, battling for all I am worth against the pull, when everybody who knows the sea knows that you don't fight a rip, you let it take you where it wants to take you.  I know that too, and I have seen enough stumbles in my life to know not to be afraid of the falling, yet still I struggle.  Ishavara pranidhana - surrender - so very difficult; so hard to let go of the illusion of control.

In the midst of a fall I have known people to leave off their practise, I don't know why, for I have found meditation during periods of loss and pain to be revelatory; how else do we understand that alongside great suffering there is always, always joy; a deep and abiding joy; how else would we learn that if not by sitting quietly with that which we call Divine moving through us during those dark, dark days.

Then, afterwards, when the ashes of whatever has been lost or has had to change have settled around us and we are ready to begin again, always beginning again, over and over renewing our faith in the process, our trust in our teachers who show us that this must be the way, a sense of clarity and purpose renewed; a conviction that although there has been loss, it has been a kind of scorching of the earth, clearing the way for new and subtler understanding and an ever-widening openness of heart; the kind of heart that welcomes in other people's pain without judgement; the kind of heart that brings forgiveness to others, but also, importantly, to ourselves.

We step forward from blackened earth into colour with our newly cracked-open hearts on our sleeves, our bodies open up and become softer and more yielding, we understand now that only brittle things break: things which are soft remain solid in spite of everything and only softness can comfort those who are in pain.

We have a better understanding now of who we are and what we are here for; we resolve again to stay true to that knowledge.  It is not always easy and we have learnt this by now: people do not always understand, some things must be left behind if we are to move on and there will be parts of ourselves that we have to let go.  But once this is done, we can breathe again, there is space and possibility and we are reassured by our own clarity of mind and by how the road seems to rise to meet us in our new endeavours.

If you understand this blog; if you are on your own journey and this makes sense to, then I hope you find encouragement here.  None of it is in vain.  We are walking up a mountain together, each of us is following a different trail, but all paths lead to the top.  If you are roaming the foothills lost, know that others have been there before you and have made it through; I am sorry for your trouble, but I would not rob you of it, because I know what it has to teach you if you are willing to learn.  If you are reading this, then you are willing.

Namaste x



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