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Whale Songs In the Hardest Times

by | Jan 15, 2021 | Journal | 0 comments

Over the past year, we have experienced a rapid increase in the intensity of life, and this year is looking to top it all. It reminds me of my time living on Kaua’i. That island appears to be paradise, but those who live there know the intensity of the last mountain in the sea.

Gerard Whalen via Pexels

Kaua’i is a volcanic grandmother who has seen it all. She knows your lies. She knows the games you play to trick her. You can’t fool her, but she’ll let you try, just so you can get the full experience of being caught in your own trap. Kaua’i is known to give its residents a good whooping when it’s called for, and the kind of warm embrace we all need when we are crying our eyes out after.

Just like Grandma Kaua’i, these months we’ve ventured through want us to know that we are capable of far more than we give ourselves credit. We don’t believe it, which is why we find ourselves being pushed out into the mad ocean.

The teachings that we have received in these salty waters have not been easy. Each of our individual challenges have been amplified by the unprecedented collective difficulties. Things that we never imagined happening are happening, but sometimes the greatest difficulties are the only keys to the rusty gates of our hearts.

For instance: Whales.

Andre Estevez via Pexels

I fell in love with whales while I was living on Kaua’i, where I was often greeted on my commute by a humpback whale’s breach just off the shore. It turns out that the whales have followed me (or I have followed them, more likely) to Canada’s Vancouver Island, where I now live. As we’ve all been sent home by COVID-19, our beautiful coast has seen a dramatic reduction in ship traffic. Whales rely on sound to live. Fewer boats means less noise in the water, which means more space for the whales to roam. Early this month, a pod of orcas returned to the coastal waters off the northern tip of Vancouver Island after 20 years away. It’s not the only place whales are coming back. Similar sightings of whales have been noted in Italy, England, and even New York City.

(I can’t help but mention that many whale species, including orcas, are matrilineal and have deep bonds between mother and child. I don’t think this is a coincidence, but a bright, blazing arrow to where we need to go.)

The whales give me faith (shraddha). As I listen to their songs like my favorite new artist, I suddenly find that I don’t have to know why this is all happening. In fact, I remember that in the confusion of the churning waves, it is not the right time to ask that question. Now is the time to swim. Soon we can lie on the warm sand, hold each other, and tell our stories. But for now, let’s belong to the same wild understanding as these whales. Let’s follow their songs home even if we have no idea what that means.

Boern Kils via Reuters

Free Yoga Nidra Practice on Faith

The whales offered me faith, and I make an offering to you in return. When I record yoga nidra practices, I usually only share them with my member clients, but today I’m opening this one to you. This particular yoga nidra practice is designed to connect you to faith — an experience far different from the hopeless state of hope, or the blind optimism of positive thinking. The kind of faith I reference here is balm, a humble acknowledgment that we cannot know all the reasons for these events. It’s the only thing we have when the world turns upside down.

I’ve included a brief instruction on how to practice yoga nidra below, but all you really need to do is rest and be. Yoga nidra is just like faith — you don’t have to know how it works to get the effects. Just lie down in a downy nest and listen. My desire is to offer a deep relaxation that makes it possible to wake up tomorrow and do whatever is in front of you.

If we want to live to tell the tale of this time, we must practice faith in action. May the whales show us how.

Yoga Nidra Practice: Releasing Into Faith

To practice yoga nidra, lie on your back with your knees elevated on a chair or bolster. You might like to make a nest with a yoga mat, cozy blankets under and on top of you, or some combination of the two. Try a small towel under your head or a very thin pillow, and an eye pillow.

The purpose is not to fall asleep, but to find a deep state of relaxation so you can resolve tension held deeply in the body. If you fall asleep, let that be the practice — you probably need it.

If you need some faith to get through this, I offer my hand. Sign up for a SevaMama membership and get weekly or bimonthly 1:1 calls with me, monthly yoga nidra recordings like this one, discounts on group programs, and special members-only content. You can find out more here, or send an email to set up a free call to see if we’re a fit. I don’t promise to have all the answers, but I promise to hold a mirror up to the answers waiting inside you.

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