Both SidesAug 03, 2022
As a long-time Joni Mitchell fan, I’m among the throngs of people who were mesmerized and moved to tears by her appearance at the Newport Folk Festival a few weeks ago.
Joni was in her early 20s when she wrote the iconic song Both Sides Now. When it first came out some people criticized the lyrics. What could someone so young possibly know about the seeing life from different angles?
Over the years, and through multiple interpretations by her and others, the song continues to convey layers of depth and meaning about the paradoxical and subjective nature of human experience.
I wonder, what was it in 23-year-old Joni, who hadn’t yet launched her career, that had the inspiration to write a song so brilliant and true that it would speak to people for generations to come?
Perhaps it came from a place beyond her ordinary, “thinking” mind, what’s often referred to in yoga as the Self. It’s considered to be our truest essence, the seat of ageless, timeless wisdom within us. In the yoga tradition, this great Self is recognized as the source of creative genius and inspiration that transcends – and has the power to expand - our limited perspective.
I remember a great teacher once saying that meditation makes a lawyer a better lawyer, a mother a better mother, and a musician a better musician. What I think he meant by this is twofold:
First, meditation helps us develop the presence of mind needed to focus on whatever we’re doing so we can respond skillfully to the needs of the moment.
Second, in meditation we can get in touch with the wisdom of the Self. We can then bring the gifts of that experience into our lives in the form of greater clarity, enthusiasm, and creative solutions to problems.
In these ways, and so many others, the connection with our inner being that we foster in meditation benefits everything else we do in life.
While most of us will probably never create art that inspires generations, this awareness – and the practices that help us touch it – are there for each of us for guidance and inspiration.
Our practices can bring us into relationship with the Self, then it’s up to us give expression to our inner experience through what we do and who we are. It’s both us, and bigger than us.