Thursday, September 22, 2011

Even a Stopped Clock . . . Comes Into Balance

This week is full of special days. September 21 was GlobalPeace Day, and September 23 is the equinox. And no, I specifically did not call it the Autumnal or the Spring Equinox because this year of living in the southern hemisphere utterly confused means that in my head it is both.

I talked about my first experience with the equinox 6 months ago (here). And now the tables are turned. As the northern hemisphere begins to experience red and orange leaves and cooler evenings, we are finally seeing flowers bloom and light past 7pm. The equinox is the moment of balance in the world. It is a brief moment in time when the center of the sun is in the same place as the Earth’s equator. Emotionally, we all connect to that sense of balance.

The Otago University Clock Tower with spring flowers in front. 

It is a cliché, but it is also true: “even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” Similarly, twice per year, the Earth comes into perfect balance with the sun. The rest of the year one side is tilting away while the other side tilts toward it, but the equinox brings us all into that balance, even for just a moment.

I thought for the briefest of moments I would call this post Flowers in September, but that theme is old. But more than old, it also does not fit. This equinox is not a time for me to feel disconnected from what I know. Yes, it is still weird to me that days are getting longer during the college football season, and there are blossoms blooming as the Jewish High Holidays approach. These events defined fall to me growing up, and now it is Spring. So I remain confused, but the balance is stronger than the confusion.

I still believe the equinox is a time to celebrate both rebirth and letting go, spring and fall. But it is also a time to recognize that even an imbalanced world comes into balance twice a year. Life has a tendency to get in the way of us noticing that. Deadlines loom. Clients call. Kids scream. Holidays approach. But for two days a year, together we can all notice and recognize a sense of balance. Moreover, we can all find that sense of balance at any time just by knowing it is possible.

I taught my third class at the Yoga Studio here as well as my Monday class at the university this week. Balance was, of course, the theme for both. Often when people think of balance in yoga, they think of standing with only one leg on the ground in postures such as Vrksasana (Tree Pose), or of arm balances. This week, though, my favorite balance pose is Tadasana (Mountain Pose). From the outside it looks like someone simply standing.

There is no question that practicing balancing on one foot is useful and can help us find balance in life off the mat as well. But too often we forget that we first need to find balance when standing on two feet. We must come back to the “simple” balance before attempting anything more difficult. The equinox is similar. It is a coming back to center, to balance, twice a year. The rest of the year the poles pull in opposite directions, and we all lead our crazy lives, sometimes forgetting to come back to a place of balance. But twice a year we get the reminder. Twice a year the Earth stands upright. Twice a year the Earth is in perfect balance.

Thus, no matter how far away from a sense of balance we find ourselves, we can remember that like a stopped clock, twice a year, there is balance in the world. When we place both feet on the ground, we can connect to that balance anytime. Easy? Perhaps not. But you can know it is possible. Even with all the destruction and mayhem of this year, the Earth is still coming back to its center, its balance. Luckily for us, we do not have to wait six months before we can find our own sense of balance. We just have to remember to stop and stand on our own two feet. 

I hope you can take a moment this week and feel that sense of balance. And I hope you can use the knowledge of its existence the rest of the year to remember that no matter how out of balance you might feel, it is always there within you.


© 2011 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

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