Blog: The Month of Light

Blog: The Month of Light

December 2012

The Month of Light

For me the month of December is a month of celebrating light.

Really, you ask? In the northern hemisphere of the planet, the month of December is the darkest month. The days are their shortest all year, and the winter solstice occurs late in December, this year it’s on the 21st. So how can this dark month be light-filled? The dark days in December are a reminder of light. We can celebrate that light is coming and that we have passed through the deepest, darkest cycle of the planet’s shift away from light. It is a reminder of the promise of light. There is no doubt that the sun will reappear. All the various religious practices that occur during the dark days of November/December have deep in their rituals and myths a celebration of light, the coming of light, and the promise of the coming of light.

This past week I taught a master class with all of my harp students. I had been noticing that as the majority of my class is maturing, going into their teens or early 20’s, they are struggling with nerves, anxieties, tensions, apprehensions about playing, that they didn’t have before. (Probably about growing up in general as well). With the very first student who performed, it was clear to me that it was time to address this issue openly and with all of them. They were ready. As a start, I worked with them to help them discover what they were thinking and physically doing just before they began to play. It’s the old “fight or flight” response. There were two very basic ways in which to begin to play: exhale, … then—inhale.

In my practice and study of Anusara yoga, there are 5 Universal Principals of Alignment that are applied to the body/mind as it moves through postures in space. The very first principal is “Open to Grace.” “Grace” can mean whatever you need it to mean for you. God, a Higher Power, a Universal Energy, light, possibility, relaxing… and all of those things. It’s a softening to that which is about to manifest. An opening and acknowledgement of something that is universally within you. It can sometimes be just a physical action that you may not even be aware that you are doing. For instance, exhaling.

Slow it Down.

When an athlete is about to perform his or her task they sometimes back away from it.

Slowing down time. They take a breath and step out of the batters box for a minute, say, or relax shoulders before the golf swing, or even in a fast paced game like hockey, feel the puck on the stick, then shoot. Mentally and physically, they are allowing the body to open, soften, letting it feel what it’s going to do before it does what it has been trained to do. When we’re about to perform, we can do the same thing. (After you have checked and re-checked that the harp pedals are correctly set and your bench height is right).

Thinking only within that moment, pausing, relaxing the fingers on the strings, the arms, the shoulders and jaw, sort of a physical softening response to the exhale…or in other words, Opening to Grace. Slowing down the moments with breath. Letting the body feel the sensations of how it’s going to produce the music, the energy, the colors. We can even revel in that moment just before action begins. Realizing with joy and light that we can even have this experience of playing in this moment, and then doing so. What gifts we have! What light is about to be manifested! Remembering, too, that you are supported by everyone listening, by the composer who wrote the piece and by this promise of light. You are not going it alone. Every single student had a different performance experience when first they applied this simple principal of softening and opening only to what was just happening in that moment of beginning.

And speaking of light … back to my December. December is “Opening to Grace,” on a grand universal stage. It is the exhale. It is the softening. It’s the knowing that the inhale is coming and that the promise of light is just around the corner. December is a month of holidays, joy, food, celebration and spiritual renewal. On December 22, the days will begin to get longer and the promise is fulfilled. Now take the inhale and begin.

Always, Always Love.

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