In my estimation, of the greatest joys of being a parent is that you get to reconnect with children’s literature. Sure, there are nights when I’m quite sure that if I ever even accidentally trip over a Dr. Seuss book again that I might immediately burst into flames–never mind READ it again. For the most part, I am delighted by the beautiful illustrations, the kind and meaningful tone and the idea that there is such great potential in this life.
Recently, we checked out The Greatest Intergalactic Guide to Space Ever by the Brainwaves from our local library. The illustrations by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar are imaginative and, quite frankly, hilarious. The book is a brilliant collection of facts about space and it is everything that I had hoped my college course on astronomy would be, but without the physics.
Then, on page 25, I read something that awed me and put me in touch with a sense of wonder and wonderment that made me kiss my sleeping blondie on his little head before I continued my new favorite book:
“The Sun is mostly hydrogen and helium, but it also includes small amounts of other elements. Earth formed close to the Sun from the same cloud of matter. Humans are material made from Earth’s elements, so everything in our bodies was once a star.”
Just in case you didn’t catch it—–EVERYTHING YOU ARE MADE OF WAS ONCE A STAR! Now, I’d heard something similar in some yoga or energy text that suggested that our bodies are made up of the same elements that stars are made of, but this is something different entirely because it creates a chronology. The statement in this children’s book suggests a past for all of us, a past when our parts were shining clouds of matter in the night sky. This idea is at once humbling and liberating.
No matter what kind of yoga you practice, the foundation of the practice is a kind of mindfulness that becomes available when we focus the mind and acknowledge the constant stream of thoughts that so many of us make the mistake of identifying with. Maybe that stream slows down somewhat with time and practice, but for many of us, what we can obtain in this lifetime is just an awareness. In many classes, the smallest element that we break our awareness into is the cell. What I would like to suggest is that, based on this idea that our most elemental parts were at one time a star, we spend some time in meditation getting in touch with our inner star.
The first step, and perhaps the most challenging, is to release our physical body—the body of organs and bones and blood and guts. Especially if you are in pain, this may be a considerable challenge. But, to give it a try, just lie on your back and systematically relax from your toes to the crown of your head. Then, just wait for your breathing to naturally slow down and become shallow. Don’t rush it or try to control the breath. Just lie there until you feel everything slow down.
The second step would be to watch the transitions of the breath. Focus on the space where the in-breath becomes the out-breath and the out-breath becomes the in-breath. If you lose your focus, just return to it whenever you realize that you’ve drifted. If you constantly lose focus, then you can try to add counting—-count your inhale (1) and then just listen to the sound of your exhale, count your inhale(2) and then listen to the exhale and so on until you count to ten. Anyone who has tried this before knows that you will probably get lost before you reach ten, but just keep it up and return to one when you realize you are lost.
The third step is starting to feel the way that energy is moving through your body. There is no right or wrong answer. Bring your mind’s eye to your navel and just see how energy is moving from your center to the periphery. Maybe your center feels numb—that’s interesting! Maybe you can only feel your right side—that’s interesting! Please try not to make judgments. Instead, just be incredibly curious.
Finally, start to feel the pulse of energy through the body and give that pulse a golden light. When you feel the energy rise, feel yourself glow. When you feel the energy start to wane, then feel a complete release as your light dulls a bit. Just pulse energy and light like this for as long as you wish, until you fall asleep or until you wake up.
Confirmed by a children’s book—-you ARE a star!
The Greatest Intergalactic Guide to Space Ever by the Brainwaves. London; New York:DK Publishers, 2009.
Posted by Sharon Fennimore Rudyk, Owner and Director of Yoga Matrika, a lovely little studio in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 6520 Wilkins Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Contact information for Sharon is available on the website: http://www.yogamatrika.com/. Please feel free to share and re-post, but be kind and give credit back to the Yoga Matrika blog and Sharon. Namaste!