Thursday, December 31, 2009

Balance with Excitement and Reflect

As the year comes to a close, it is easy to lean forward into projections of what may come next. It is just as easy to turn and lean back into what has piled up as experiences in the past year. Either way it's easy to stir up lots of feelings, excitement, sadness, pride, wistfulness, determination, and hope. How do we find balance in the midst of the celebrations, the wash of feelings, the anticipation of a New Year?

Just as with an asana practice, we can find freedom when we find our foundation. Imagine a standing posture, feet resting on the earth, exploring the stability of the whole energy body! Lean forward in extended side angle (Utthita Parshvakonasana), turning upward (Parivrtta Parshvakonasana); lean back, arching in a peaceful warrior.

Let your foundation root you as you anticipate the new year and cherish your view of the past year. Whether it's your feet, your seat, or standing on your hands, there's support in every breath to give you the freedom you need as you welcome 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Just Noticing, Just Being, Just Doing

I remember many discussions with my kids about doing their homework that inevitably led me to remark that if they had just been doing it for the time we had been discussing doing it, it would be done. This is a pattern I love in human beings. It is something only we do, turning things around and around and making story all about it rather than simply noticing what it is and stepping into it. So many of our words connect to this process - most of the hypothetical what-if-then-should-want-will-would-can-could conditional structures help us separate ourselves from doing, turn the action into inaction, and surrender us to mind chatter. I don't mean we should avoid real conditional statements: "if it is cold, then I will wear my heavy coat." In that case, just wear the heavy coat!

It comes down to accepting that I will notice what I notice, understanding that there is much that I will not notice, and forgiving that self-selection. Working with that, I notice more about my ability to focus, and this helps me deepen that ability, keeping me in an active mode rather than slipping into that passive mind chat state. Sitting at my desk as I write this on the computer, I am aware of my seat, my weight in balance, the earth below me taking part in supporting my foundation, the air being drawn in and expelled as I breathe. I feel the release of tension in my neck and the looseness in my shoulders as I type, the background sounds, the quality of light from the day, even the sensations of appetite and the way my mind pushes the rest of the day's schedule aside as I do this thing now. Yet I can focus on what I am thinking and doing. This was not always so! It can still happen that my mind's chatter conflicts with what I am doing to the degree that nothing gets done, but much less so. I am so much more willing to go with what actually is, accepting what I am actually attending to by noticing what I am doing. Then I can choose to play in the mind's waves rather than simply get thrown around by them.

My yoga practice evolved simply and in fits and starts, gradually opening into this ability to focus myself, to allow what I notice to be just that. I didn't think this was at the center of my attention as I learned to sit on the mat, or breathe through a sequence of asanas, or discover where I was gripping, where I was able to release, or even feeling how I was judging all of that was happening on the mat. It was not a goal I had set, though certainly at times awareness itself was part of my intention. It seems it was exactly this process of coming to terms with the surface, allowing my attention to slip deeper and deeper into the breath, the overlay of the mind, the impulses and patterns of mind and body that brought me this ease of noticing, letting go of the attachment to what I notice, and bringing me peace with how it is in this moment. I'm learning to release the judgment of myself that separates me from being free in the moment just by noticing that I am judging in the first place.

Just notice what you notice. You can start with your breath, since it is always there and constantly changing. Is it deep, shallow - go closer to it - is it in your throat or belly? Does it have a texture, a quality of ease or catching? Do you feel your ribs widen and contract or perhaps your collarbones or shoulders rise and fall? Does your skin feel any movement, what about the edges of your nostrils? Release all this focus and just breathe. Can you continue to notice qualities in your attention itself, scanning the body, drifting to something else, staying easily this moment on the breath? The practice is to simply notice, drawing your attention back to the breath when you notice it has wandered. Even five minutes of this practice will strengthen your ability to just notice. And being able to just notice will enable more of the clarity that helps you to take action without so much surface distraction. Just see what happens, noticing whatever you notice, and don't think too much about it!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wake It Up

The weather today is brisk, windy, shockingly cold in comparison with the springlike days just last weekend. I have re-evaluated what I will wear before heading out. I took out the serious gloves and scarf. I am looking forward to meeting the wind. The last time I walked 45 minutes in the bitter cold, I was well dressed and even so my hands found my pockets and my scarf tightened across my face while waiting at intersections. It was a beautiful morning. I was fascinated by the birds, by the children heading for school, by the dry leaves tumbling, the cyclists in their masks. Along with the urban landscape around me, there was a very interesting internal one, the adjustments to the cold, the measuring of how far or how long, and the awareness that I could choose to relax and not hunch up against the wind, but experience it without undue resistance.

I'm glad we don't have the same weather every day. The sky and wind, the shift in temperature and light, all this brings an alertness that I enjoy. I remember taking yoga classes that always began the same way and for a while this was comforting. My sense of familiarity was palpable, my body making the adjustments, my mind thinking it knew what was coming next. Yet even in that steady context, once my attention became alert I found that every moment was different. On a particular day my cross-legged seat would be comfortable or not, my breath would feel wide or not, my gaze steady or not. There are days when even a steadiness in trkonasana (triangle pose) escapes me on one side, while it is present on the other side.

Let the weather remind you to wake up, stay awake and turn your attention towards the outer and inner world. The beauty, the starkness, the warm heart, the essential inquiry into being and freedom are all there in today's wind. Smile as your eyes water in response, dig your hands in your pockets and let the winds blow!

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Not Broken, It's Just Asking for Attention

As we approach the New Year, there's a lot of talk about New Year's Resolutions. As with setting intentions for a yoga practice, these resolutions are a way of bringing awareness to our behaviors and sensibilities. The trouble is that way too often there is too fine a line between a resolution and a disappointment. We can so easily set ourselves up for failure by making a resolution or intention that is about an end result without reflecting our actual condition. Setting a goal, like losing 10 pounds, is a neat and tidy package, but is not about changing the habits of mind and body that added that weight, nor does it establish a pattern to keep those 10 pounds off, once lost.

I like the idea of setting intentions and making resolutions starting without the idea that it's broken (set condition) and this time I'm fixing it (set goal). My intentions rest on possibilities through noticing options, and encourage an awareness process rather than a goal or outcome. Try these on and see how they reorganize your thoughts and feelings:

In this New Year of 2010...
"I will release the tension in my shoulders."
"I will live without tension in my shoulders."
"I will stop holding tension in my shoulders."
"I will do yoga every day and eliminate tension in my shoulders."
"I will get help when I feel overwhelmed to reduce the tension in my life."
"I will release any tension I notice when I exhale."
"I will take time to label those situations that make me tense, when I recognize them."
"I will treat tension in my body with compassion, whenever I notice it."

Obviously, the first three resolutions are unreasonable, and in the end even the fourth is unattainable. If I do yoga every day, that might help me cope with tension but it will not eliminate tension in my shoulders. Getting help when overwhelmed is a good idea but doesn't address the way I let myself get overwhelmed, and making the effort to notice tension and use the breath as a mechanism to release it are both possible, manageable and probably will help reduce tension in general by drawing my awareness to my breath. Labeling situations that create tension is a long term strategy to bring awareness to the causes of my suffering, and by recognizing the causes it becomes ever more possible for me to end my suffering. The last one, approaching oneself with compassion, is a big step towards healing the causes of suffering, and underlies the release of tension with breath, with help, with awareness. It's okay to take the time to evolve this kind of list until you get to the true resolution, finding the mechanism through which you can set an intention.

The 10 extra pounds are not the problem, neither are the overuse of the cell phone or the inability to clear your desk, or difficulties enjoying time with family or staying in your budget, or getting enough rest. Those behavioral flaws you may see in others are not problems to be fixed. Resolutions are not sales quotas to meet in order to get the rent paid, unless that is a specific situation that you must actually accomplish in order to pay the rent! Underlying all these "problems" is your level of awareness, the degree to which you judge and blame, the depth to which you grasp at control in order to feel secure, or operate through denial of causes and their effects. The tension held in the body is the result of a series of conditions, and becoming aware of those conditions is the path to seeing our pattern of responses. Changing that pattern is only possible if we acknowledge it. And whether we see it or not, it is already there, impacting upon us.

Setting intentions are a way of bringing mindfulness into your way of being. They draw your attention to how things work with you, to the causes and effects that influence your choices, and to the possibilities. Perhaps this New Year can begin with a pledge to approach awareness rather than set a goal: identifying a process that opens up possibilities and allows you to feel and act more in consonance with your ideals. Ideals in and of themselves are useful. I think of them like intentions; heightening awareness and developing a willingness to see possibilities and believe we have choices.

As for those 10 pounds, starting with an inquiry into the question of appetite and satiation and the patterns of pressure and release that sometimes hijack appetite will have a longer and deeper effect on your weight, even though a rigid routine of giving up desserts or second helpings might lose the pounds in the short term.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Choosing Awareness & Finding Ease

A few weeks ago I was recovering from a cold and had many teaching sessions on my calendar. Oddly enough, this heavy level of activity seemed to actually help me feel better, seeming to speed my recovery. The first thing I noticed was that it was not hard to get up as early as necessary, even though I was congested and tired. My awareness began with the quality of the predawn light. Noticing my breath was quiet and somewhat constrained, I relaxed my throat and shoulders, right there in bed. Most of this was a new pattern, almost unconsciously taking care of itself. The underlying shift had already taken hold, that of not feeling sorry for myself, for what was on my plate for the day. I enjoyed my hot tea, putting together my various props, reviewing my schedule, making coffee for those rising after me, and bundling up for my walking commute. The day was happily underway. I was awestruck by the beauty of the changing light as I went through my day. Of course I was tired by evening, and even that felt deserved.

Make no mistake, I have had my share of resentful, frustrated, and woeful attitudes! I, too, have been ruled by negative feelings: blaming others for the situations I found myself in, reviling my own decisions and judging myself as inadequate, even desperately hoping that someone else would come along and take charge of the situation, what I call the "knight in shining armor" syndrome. I've also taken positions of being so very right that no way could someone else be right unless they fully agreed with me! Yes, I am a totally human being, full of hubris and anxiety.

Can it really be so simple, that the awareness of my own breath could start such an enormous shift? Yes, it has been so. I have discovered that on the yoga mat I can exist in a new way that enables me to see the range of possibilities available to me, without being swept away by circumstances. The reality in that moment is that of sitting on the mat. The strength of my sense of self rests in the inhale and exhale. The awareness of the cranky hip or the constrained shoulder is a reminder that I am open to possibilities and full of compassion for myself, and everyone else, for the visible and invisible suffering in all of us. The happy hip and functional fingers remind me of the grace and blessings that each of us carries.

This frame of reference exists in me most of the time. The sense of foundation, breath, possibility, and compassion are always available. I may be waiting for a subway with an appointed time looming ahead of me, yet I can relax into just standing on the earth, breathing the air, waiting and being among others, or simply enjoy the marvelous structures of the station. I might be in the midst of putting together a complicated family meal for people with different food requirements, checking and double checking that I've covered all the intended bases, improvising where the gaps appear. Or I might be waking up very early in predawn light to organize myself for a day of teaching and busy schedules.

I have found that I do not have to analyze why I might have previously felt sorry for myself, dragging out of bed, wishing I could back out of something. I can simply let go of it without giving it anything other than its name: self-pity, judging, fear, grasping, lying, laziness. Yoga practice has gradually taught me a vast amount about myself as a human being functioning in the world. I've learned that all the possibilities are there if I am open to noticing them. I now trust that my heart is wise enough to know when I need help and understand that it is not shame or weakness to ask for that, as well as accept that I can handle something. It has become clear to me that by choosing to do something I am free to do it with ease and pleasure; and if it is difficult I can bring my full breath and grace to bear on it. Just as I would in a class if a teacher asks me to stay in Utkatasana (chair pose) five more breaths, I've learned that I can breathe and release unnecessary effort; I can explore the interaction of releasing my weight to the earth and feeling my own rising energy; I can let go of the judgmental mind that chatters at me about how hard this is, or what I can and cannot tolerate.

Part of our freedom comes in knowing that we will do what we can, and that we will not do what we cannot do. This seems simple, but think about it a minute. How much of the resentment and anger, weariness and self-pity comes from imagining that somehow we've been asked to do something that we cannot do, or that is too hard for us? Who asked for this? Who agreed to this? How did we get ourselves into this? Turning this around is surprisingly easy. Smile at the critical mind, acknowledge that mistakes are a normal part of the striving for the illusion of perfection, find your breathing supports everything you are actually doing in the moment. In a profound way, return to fully being yourself.

Yoga is an integrating practice, and this combination of the breath, body and spirit brings all one's energy into the equation, but it is the postures of the mind that often change the most through a yoga practice. Yoga is not psychotherapy, nor is it physical therapy, but yoga practices allow space for physical and psycho-emotional awareness. This can change the patterns that often trap us in recurring cycles of behaviors and experiences. Letting go of that old idea of who I am has brought a new way for me to be fierce without clutching, to be determined without grasping, to be responsible without gritting my teeth.

We can let our choices include the choice of happiness with being ourselves and doing that which is in our day or on the calendar. It is our choice to grump or stay loose, and it is our choice to judge or stay open. Notice your choices, including the choice of accepting ease and being okay with your choice, and see what happens.

Just as the solstice begins to turn towards the sun a little longer, we can still enjoy the darkness of the night and all its stars.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Love Opens My Beginner's Mind

Love is such an enormous part of what makes our human life feel "worth living." Seems to me there is really nothing more complex or embedded in our lives. Our culture attaches all manner of behaviors and assumptions to ideas of love, and has historically, and our personalities and characters further embellish our understandings and behaviors. Rather than analyzing all of this, I am learning to approach love as part of my yoga practice, opening myself to possibilities, releasing judgmental mind, strengthening and stretching that which is already part of me, noticing the roller coaster and my fistful of tickets.

The truth of love is undeniable, as reading an ancient fragment of poetry expressing love lost can bring a modern person to tears, or the birth of a mythically beloved child can open the hearts of total strangers.

This day after Christmas reverberates with emotional markers for me. My youngest son was born in the morning on this day in 1990, and five years ago (2004) there was a catastrophic tsunami that wiped out entire villages across the world. Both still shake my heart.

This morning, George Harrison's song "Oh My Love" struck a very deep chord with me. Hearing or reading the simple words seems to bring forth the open spaces and possibilities of beginner's mind. It describes the outward movement of our defining edges, the softening of defenses and attendant discovery of our multi-faceted way of being, and the deep release of the individual into the eternal winds.

On this day, I encourage you to feel the intense, simple, and universal nature of your heart, opening fully to joy and sorrow. Rather than circumscribing your structure, like a building, shutting your doors and windows against the cold of winter, as if you could contain the heat of your heart, saving it for some future moment, or protecting its past performance. Soften, melt and breathe into the whole experience of this moment, like a courageous beginner open to love in all its ways of being.

Oh my love, by George Harrison

Oh my love
For the first time in my life
My eyes are wide open
Oh my lover
For the first time in my life
My eyes can see

I see the wind
Oh I see the trees
Everything is clear in the world
I see the clouds
Oh I see the sky
Everything is clearer in our world

Oh my love
For the first time in my life
My mind is wide open
Oh my lover
For the first time in my life
My mind can feel

I feel the sorrow
Oh I feel the dreams
Everything is clearer in my heart
I feel life
Oh I feel love
Everything is clearer in our world

Friday, December 25, 2009

One thing leads to another - Yamas & Niyamas

This inhale leads directly to this exhale, doesn't it? And as long as the heart is beating, it seems this exhale gives way to this inhale...

When I first began studying the underlying principles of yoga practice, I read of the Yamas and Niyamas, and then when I was working on my teaching certification we went over all of this again. It felt totally new to me! Somehow I seem to continue revisiting these concepts endlessly and feel they are vibrant, startling, and inextricable from each other. My mind and heart cannot separate one from another in the sense that "not grasping" (Aparigraha) draws from and provides for "contentment" (Santosha) and "truth" (Satya) releasing the illusions and facing realities leads directly to and from "purity" (Saucha) the clarity of clean living and selflessness. Each one, regardless of whether it represents a social behavior or an internal structure leads directly to and from all the others. The breath reminds me of this in a most visceral way! Oh sure, we can try to hold our breath, and even practice the withholding or holding of breath, but what happens after that is the return of the inhale and the exhale...our human nature, our present moment.

The Yamas and Niyamas are considered to be two steps of the Eight-fold Path of Yoga. Some would say "the first two steps" but, since I have this enmeshed feeling about the practices, I cannot truthfully separate any of the steps into that kind of a sequential order! For now, I'd like to introduce you to these basic delineations without any sense of hierarchy, and encourage you to take any one that strikes you close to heart, and turn it over and around and let yourself play at digesting it for as long as it intrigues you, letting it lead you to another one. Or, like the way yeast stretches the dough into connected living strands, just leave the sponge rising and see how all the parts connect and stretch into and from each other.

The Yamas are considered abstinences, that from which we refrain by deepening our commitments to practices that heal and develop our openness to the grace within us. These practices enable us to meet each other's gaze with full presence, and represent a kind of social contract. They are traditional to most spiritual practices: non-violence/Ahimsa, truth/Satya, non-stealing/Asteya, chastity/Brahmacharya, non-possession/Aparigraha.

The Niyamas are often thought of as observances, that with which we regulate our basic structure in order to meet our own gaze fully and that of the divine with equinimity and ease: purity/Saucha, contentment/santosha, discipline/tapa, self-study/Svadhyaya, devotion to divinity/Ishvara Pradnidhana.

A wonderful attribute of these practices is that there is nothing but the inquiry itself, no dogma that must be overlaid upon them, no finicky archaic quality of language or costume that attends them. In fact, there is truly nothing that stands between you and this exploration. It is fun to look at human musings from all time periods (and all spiritual practices) spanning thousands of human years, but it is not necessary to your experience. Just like comparing a variety of dictionary definitions, this kind of intellectual study can be fun too, and of course you can start with the definition that arises in you from your own experience or original spiritual orientation.

Many of us modern types have issues with the niyamas, just the idea of discipline or chastity, or purity can raise hackles, but when you lean back and just taste and sample, knead and let rise, these concepts are deeply enriching and supportive! I'm not advocating anything having to do with perfection or rules, rather sincere openness and release into your true nature. We tend to standardize and codify ideas about possessiveness or truth, and I encourage you to let all that internalized dogma go so you can really feel the connections of desire and need and illusion and free yourself of the traps that so easily catch us. Not so easily done, I admit. And speaking for myself, even recognizing my own internalized assumptions has been an on-going revelation!

Just inhale and see what happens. Exhale and let it go fully until your body asks for the breath, or until your breath just takes care of itself. There is enormous wisdom within you if you are willing to explore! Let the next breath lead you on the ancient and vibrant path of your own footsteps!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No measuring stick for a vital life

Today I am scooping up my youngest son after his first semester of college and traveling en famille to spend a couple days with our oldest parent, my mother-in-law. It seems inevitable that my two boys compare themselves to each other, to themselves at various times, and to accomplishments they know of in the lives of others. This measuring and comparing can be used as a motivation or as derision, creating an illusion that they are somehow a fixed point in their lives.

Certainly we can feel ourselves shifting over time, we do not react, nor perhaps have the same desires, the way we did when children, or teens, or just barely adults. We can see that grandparents, neighbors or co-workers have different life experiences, may have different priorities that seem linked to the roles they now play - the responsibilities they now carry, or the features of their external lives. Yet it is not necessary to pin ourselves to the velvet and become specimens for comparison, a process that cannot help but devalue ourselves and others in the entirety of our being.

I start each yoga practice with bringing awareness to the moment, to fully experiencing the breath. In a room full of students, each one will find their way into their body, gradually following the inhale and discovering themselves as living awareness. For some, the experience remains elusive, and I can feel them clinging to my words, directing their attention and enabling the inquiry. For others, I sense them literally inhabiting their breath fully. It makes no difference who has been a dancer, who works in an office, who is in their twenties or sixties. It is clear that the distinctions we make based on external attributes or accomplishments, age or gender or any other qualifying criteria do not make for a vital life. Each of these people has chosen to focus their attention, cultivate their ability to focus their attention, and to take the most radical step towards developing their own awareness.

In yoga we revere beginners mind as a practice. This is a way of being that in its essence keeps all the channels open to possibilities, rather than using "what we know" to adhere to a structure or predetermine an outcome. Even in the classical asana practices, the journey is an open inquiry in which everything is there it be discovered. The experience of finding Sukhasana (easy seated pose) or Tadasana (mountain pose) is a lifelong journey for which there can be no judge, no expert, no right or wrong way.

Using yoga as a process of exploration on and off the mat, I have begun to deepen my understanding that there really is no measuring stick for a life. One moment of full awareness changes the way I see myself and others so dramatically that there is no way to make judgmental comparisons.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Passing through Warrior

This first day of winter I am caught by the softness of the tangled branches of trees as they are edged in the pale slanting winter sun light. They reach out to the emptiness of sky, muscular and solid in their trunks and yet openly fragile in their end buds, patiently awaiting spring warmth. Their roots, invisible, extend beyond the frozen surface of earth and rest among the suspended lives of all that hibernates below us, perhaps gently absorbing moisture from the rushing ground waters buried even deeper than that. Just now they embody the asana of Warrior (Virabhadrasana) to me.

So often in yoga we pass through the warrior poses, Virabhadrasana I, II or III. Sometimes it is part of a sun salutation, sometimes it is where all the warming up leads and the pinnacle of the practice before we slow it down with backbends, twists and inversions. To me, today, the warrior is the exquisite expression of being, living on earth.

I rise to Virabhadrasana I - warrior, having opened hips, having warmed shoulders, having explored Tadasana feet and the ability to allow release where I do not need effort. The warrior puts me on my feet, yet they are spread wide, and my hips are loosely holding legs that fiercely stretch to the front and back of me. Balancing on mountain feet, acknowledging their full press and expansiveness, I find the outer edges of my back foot and the heel and ball of the front foot. In the midst of this, literally, my torso is supported effortlessly by its natural spinal bouyancy. I extend my arms above me, releasing my shoulders and extending my core through my wrists (Virab. I) or parallel to my legs (Virab II) which opens my heart, gently twists my spine and spirals open my hips too. Perhaps taking flight from here to lean on the bouyant air itself, deepening the trust and resolve of one leg into the earth, I stretch up, squaring my hips over the standing leg, extending horizontally from heel to top of my skull for Virabhadrasana III.

Staying in warrior for several breaths changes everything about being. Allowing the body to find support between earth's balance and breath's undulation, letting the core energy rise quietly into extended arms and legs that rest mid-air, turning my gaze towards whatever may be inside or outside of me, in front or behind me, visible or invisible, I can open my heart, release my weight to the earth, and rise energetically to meet the moment.

In any moment of life there's not more or less than this, this is it. Finding and removing the blindfolds and blockages I use to separate myself into bits and from the moment transforms my experience. Warrior by its very nature unifies me and in that stance, even a fleeting warrior pose moving to and from another asana, reminds me to draw the earth and sky into the core of my being.

Balancing strength and resolve with the releasing of will, I can surrender defenses and excuses, and allow myself the freedom of being fully present, integrated. In that condition I can take the coldest wind, the most confusing or devastating personal dynamic, and even the dangerously divisive nature of our current national politics. Warm yourself up and explore finding your warrior in you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Meditating and the Arc of Emotion

Today my mediation seemed to open on the emotional balancing of light and dark, not unlike the solstice itself.

It can sometimes feel that optimism, or happiness, or joy is a product of the "glass half full" idea, and there is the risk, if I let my guard slip, that I could so quickly slide into the "glass half empty" state of mind. I sometimes find myself flooded with despair for human beings and our infinite suffering. It can seem to stretch back in time through all eternity, so many individuals living difficult hard scrabble lives, or lives cut short by cruel aggression, disease, or simply the time and place in which they tried to be themselves. Suffering.

Today this fully entered into my meditation. My yoga practice has not put an end to this pendulum swing, but has drastically changed the effect the pendulum has on my state of being. In fact the pendulum seems to swing in circles now, describing ever more fully the framework of emotions, and like a sparkler in the dark delineating and illuminating the circle, leaves little trace but in my memory. My heart breaks so deeply that I can hardly stay in my seat, except that it is exactly that seat that holds the sparkler steady as it circles back to reveal the intense beauty and depths of love that also have saturated human experiences. So I also sense the delights and powers of the natural world, the profound art embedded in human craft and care, and the intensity of love expressed in poems, images, and communal acts.

So by breathing in, allowing the breath itself to be what I actually experience in this moment, my awareness can spread wide, like the circle of sparkling light, including the despair and the joy. I see myself as just one of the many who, with this inhale take the chance of living in this moment, and with this exhale, release myself of the judgment about the visible and invisible traces of the arc. My awareness does not seem to require me to carry the weight of the world as a burden, but rather opens my eyes to the intense beauty of the arc, whether it swings close or away, towards despair or joy.