The theme of tonight's Wesak full moon is compassion and kindness—the perfect time for a little self-reflection. It’s all about ILLUMINATION of the body, heart, mind and spirit. The moon’s ancient energy can be a wonderful aid in choosing action over procrastination, dispassion over attachment, and liberation over addiction.
At one time I taught yoga to a successful billionaire. One key thing I noticed about her? Whatever came up, she was a master at addressing it in the moment—not next week, not later today, but NOW. In my own life I’ve been noticing my tendency to put things off. Following her cue, I ask myself: Do I need to gather more information, give myself time to reflect, let things simmer down before I act? Or am I just procrastinating? And if I am procrastinating, can I admit it, forgive myself, and then take action?
This sort of self-reflection requires a real willingness to study oneself from an open, witnessing, spacious Presence. It’s akin to seeing yourself on the stage of life. You watch from a distance without attaching or identifying with anything playing out before you. With some distance and a compassionate attitude toward yourself, you can bear it all with gentleness (and even the occasional chuckle). You don’t need to fix yourself, but just notice what’s really going on, through curious inquiry. The more you can observe the impact of what you’re doing dispassionately, the more likely the behavior will wind down on its own, like a revved-up toy car on a round track that slows down and eventually comes to a halt.
Self-reflection can also help unproductive habits fall away when they're no longer useful. When I first encountered yoga, I was interested in adopting a body-purifying yogic lifestyle. From this traditional point of view, yogis don’t eat meat. It became a huge hurtle to overcome, since I thoroughly enjoyed meat. And I couldn’t figure out how on earth I was going to stop. My yoga teacher told me not to worry about it, that it would fall away of its own accord. And sure enough, it did. I simply observed my habits without forcing myself to change them. Over and over I would notice my choices from a spacious, wide-angle lens. I gave myself permission to continue to eat meat, and permission for non-perfection. When I was successful, I found that my body was appreciating a lighter diet, particularly with the amount of yoga I was doing at the time. This gentle approach enabled me to make the shift of my behavior.
Witnessing your addictions and other attachments might be the first step in loosening the stranglehold that the behavior has on you. The key is spacious, dispassionate, non-judgmental observation. Whether it may be procrastination, attachment, addiction or some other sticking point, what is it in your life that is seeking illumination? Use your Presence, compassion and the full-moon energy to bring it to light. As we continue to Ignite Our Inner Flame, all of our iniquities must eventually burn away in that fire and be transmuted into radiant light…