Tiny DeathsMar 23, 2023
Everything dies, but that’s kind of good. It makes for a very rich world. All the richness, all that fecundity, all that beautiful miracle of life, it happens because we live in cycles, not perpetuity.
- adrienne maree brown, writer, activist, and author
In our course on Nondual Tantra, one of the concepts we're exploring is the creative cycle. This tradition envisions an absolute consciousness - unbounded in its freedom and power - as the source from which everything comes into being, hangs around for a while, and then subsides. It describes this source power as giving rise to the dynamics of both our inner and outer worlds in a perpetual cycle of creation, maintenance, and dissolution.
We see this creative cycle of life taking place everywhere and on every level - in the seasons and phases of natural world, in the circumstances of our lives, as well as in the interior world of our thoughts, dreams, and feelings.
It seems to me that, as a culture, we’re predisposed to favor the creation and maintenance part of this cycle. We're less comfortable with welcoming the dissolution. We tend to celebrate the work of generating new ideas and initiating projects, and we recognize the value of keeping things going. But letting go of what’s come to completion and allowing things to end is harder for most of us.
In our yoga practice, Shavasana is our opportunity to get better at this. While I agree that there are few things better than resting deeply at the end of class, Shavasana can be about so much more than a final relaxation. Traditionally, it was practiced as a kind of meditation on death, a practice of relinquishing one’s attachment to the body and to life itself.
As a pose of assimilation, Shavasana allows us to integrate the benefits of what’s been generated through the practice. In the framework of Nondual Tantra, becoming the corpse, the shava, can also be about symbolically releasing all that defines us as individuals and offering it back into the source energy from which it arises.
By allowing our limited sense of ourselves to dissolve for a few minutes, our efforts become the compost for a new cycle to begin again. We come to see that there’s a vitality even in death, because it provides the space necessary for something new to emerge.
Placing ourselves wholeheartedly and willingly into the creative cycle in this way we step into the ever-unfolding and, indeed, miraculous cycle of life itself. In doing so, we avail ourselves of the rich possibilities it holds for rebirth and renewal in every moment.