Totality: that is what everyone called it. The magnificent eclipse of August 21, 2017. The hype was exhilarating.
I happen to live part time on the Oregon Coast, the place where the eclipse would initiate this continent and then continue its trajectory across the US. Signs marked the anticipated crowds: $100 parking, no vacancy, eclipse sweatshirts, free glasses. The media compared it to the Millennium zeitgeist, a portentous event. Alternately, several yoga based oracles said that the eclipse was inauspicious and that one should fast and stay indoors. I knew that the experience would be partly based on what I put into it. Was this to be an accounting? A reboot?
The morning of Totality was well rehearsed. Countdown to Fifteen minutes after Ten. Everything depended on the weather, and the forecast called for fog. You see, the Oregon Coast is unpredictable! At 6am, we climbed into our cars and drove an hour to the Hilltop cemetery in Independence. We joined a small crowd for a clear and bright morning, with a view of surrounding fields of grain. The general mood was super friendly and everyone shared information, technology and food. With three hours to contemplate, I did a few Surya Namaskars and sat to meditate.
I can’t explain and won’t even try to give a poetic version of the Totality, except to say that my husband and I plan on traveling to see the next one in the US in 2024. Somehow I did drop to my knees and, along with many around me; the only thing that escaped my lips was “Oh my God.”
Did I have a transformative moment? A gestalt, Samadhi? Not exactly. But the experience was deeply moving. The eclipse became a metaphor for Samadhi, for a perfect union of opposites. Reflecting on different paradigms, the Yin and Yang, Ha and Tha, the singularity of the sun (Purusha) and the intimate changes of the moon (Prakriti), the lower self and the higher Self, I found meaning within all of these. The image in my mind has become a yantra to invoke, to sit with and learn through. And experience? How has this touched my psyche and my practice? I do feel anointed in some way, as if I have had a “glimpse” of the possibility of union on a “cosmic” scale.
Every day I find myself on my yoga mat. During these vacation weeks I often begin with Savasana. Some days I pursue an asana, or I explore releasing or stimulating a part of my body. Some days I do what Geetaji calls a “donkey practice”, I go through the paces. But now, on some special days, after any asana where I feel either my heart rate increase (backbends) or a flush of endorphins (forward bends), I stop and feel. How is my breath, where does my breath touch, and the heartbeat, how are my sensations changing with each breath, and between breaths. I tune in to the “not-doing” to feel the transfiguring power of each asana and sometimes, the integration and harmony within. Perhaps this is a union of sun and moon, the doing and “not-doing”. Another step in a long journey.