Equinox and Balance

20131219_161957Equinox is that time of equal day/equal night that occurs twice each year. It calls us to balance—light and dark, day and night, internal and external, spiritual and material, all those times when we lean too far in some direction or another and need to pull ourselves back to center.

We’re told to strive for balance: “Pull yourself together.” We experience walking as a continuous cycle of nearly falling down. Balance is a point we pass through, just as a teeter-totter on a playground passes through the point of balance on its fulcrum again and again as riders at each end go up and down in turn. Even when the teeter-totter is perfectly balanced, if the person at one end inhales as the other exhales, the balance is lost.

Is the objective to linger in the point of balance as long as we can? Or long enough to recognize and appreciate it?

As we grow and learn more about ourselves, the world around us, and the cycles in which life operates, perhaps the things that yank us to one side or the other lose some of their influence. Perhaps the fluctuations grow smaller, as we acknowledge what is ours and what is someone else’s issue.

One way to reach that point of balance is to pause. Just stop. Where are you? What do you see? What do you hear? What does the air smell like? Where are your feet? This coming into tune with place in the moment can bring us back into internal balance.

Equinox offers us that place of balance as the sun pauses for a day in its journey northward. We can take stock and change our focus as we step through the portal from one season to another.

The seasons move in cycles, from one season or phase of life to the next, without calendar schedules. Calendars serve to remind us, for as people we get so caught up in the doing of life that we can overlook the quiet of being.

In China, spring is associated with East and sunrise, with green and new growth. Half a world away to the east, the Native American Medicine Wheel also honors equinox as the beginning of the spring season. Spring is in the East, the place of sunrise, the place of new beginnings. Colors differ from tribe to tribe, but in my cosmology East is yellow like the sun. The sun’s warmth brings forth the green of new growth.

In both traditions, spring is a time to appreciate the preparation that goes on in the cold stillness of winter, unseen, which makes sprouting possible. Celebrate the end of the time of underground reflection and effort, and the beginning of upward growth that leads to leaves and fruit.

This spring equinox, take time to pause. What underground, introspective process was working in you through the cold stillness of winter? What process or project is ready to break ground and grow into the sun? It takes a lot of effort for a seed to break its casing and push up through the earth into the light. Take time to acknowledge that effort. Celebrate the balance that comes as you pause and breathe before taking that first step of new beginnings.

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"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." - George Eliot
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Gandhi
"There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings – we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and live freely, and we all share this planet together." - attributed to Gandhi
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