Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh shares, "We may think that we're 'doing it wrong.' Somehow we are 'failing at happiness.' That isn't true. Being able to enjoy happiness doesn't require that we have zero suffering. In fact, the art of happiness is also the art of suffering well. When we learn to acknowledge, embrace, and understand our suffering, we suffer much less. Not only that, but we're also able to go further and transform our suffering into understanding, compassion, and joy for ourselves and for others."
I couldn't say it better, the only thing I would add is: to dance it.
In a Qoya class, we ask women to imagine, "What if you couldn't do it wrong?" While there is an unsaid but reverently honored code of ethics and integrity that holds this question as an experiment, there is also a freedom to explore one's truth without the fear of judgment or expectation that we are at fault for feeling how we feel and being where we are. We get to explore the open door of love, acceptance, and encouragement that lives inside every human heart.
Qoya is joyful and playful. A common thing I'll hear from new people is, "I don't remember being that happy since I was a child." That innocence happiness. That ache from your cheeks being sore from smiling so hard for so long. That unapologetic enthusiasm.
However, a lot of the celebration in Qoya comes after the storm, or after the Shadow Contrast Dance in which we practice what Thich Nhat Hanh calls "the art of suffering well." We honor our suffering and shadow experiences with the wisdom of homeopathic medicine.
Homeopathic medicine views symptoms of illness as normal responses of the body as it attempts to regain health. Homeopathy is based on the idea that "like cures like." That is, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, giving the person a very small amount of the same substance may cure the illness.
If like cures like, happiness does not cure suffering. Instead, the cure is the art of suffering itself — the courage to embrace, honor, learn, and feel.
The fear is that when we feel, we will be consumed by the feeling, unable to re-emerge. Yet it is by feeling, by diving into that thing we fear, that we cultivate our will to shine through. When we must go beyond our self and call on something greater, we surrender to the light that animates the world, the brightness that inspires us to rise up and meets us where we are. The love that unconditionally shines on all of creation without exception. The Sun.
Ancient cultures weave ritual and ceremony into the year to create an interface between nature and the soul to remember its mirror reflection.
There is a light that shines bright in all of us. Our own inner sun.
There is a part of us that reflects and cycles around that light, courageously exploring itself beyond its glow. Our own inner moon.
This solstice, embrace your light. This new moon in Cancer, embrace your embodied emotion and submerge into sensation.
Practice the art of celebrating and suffering well as if they were as interconnected as the sun and the moon. To honor the dance of the planets, mirror this dance in your body by...dancing!
For a Solstice Ceremony tonight, I invite you to do a fire ceremony to commit to re-ignite your light again and again. Click here for instructions (you can also read about fire ceremonies on page 143 of the Qoya book).
For our New Moon in Cancer, let yourself be inspired by our resident Astrologer Virginia Rosenberg's words, and do our movement ritual to Embody the Flow of your feeling. Remember - there is no way you can do it wrong, and the way you know you're doing it right is that feels resonant with the waters of your soul:
The New Moon in Cancer on June 23, 2017 (10:31pmEST) is an origin point. Feel what you feel. All of it. Leave nothing out. Dip yourself into emotional sensation like you would dip your body into a flowing river on a hot summer's day. At first, the sensation might feel cold or shocking. Breathe deep. As your body adapts to sensation, it merges with the imprint of all within the water. The river is crisp and clear, yet contains volumes of history. Herstory. All the years of flowing. Years of fullness. Years of drought. Years of murky muddiness. Years of pristine clarity. Years of ebbing stagnation. Years of overwhelming momentum. And this river, by simply being, has been a home to so many. Infinite creatures. It has housed fish and frogs and birds. It has fed bears and wolves and insects. It has sustained human communities. It has baptized countless souls. The river is home. Feel its waters. Be one with its environment. The river within you leads to Home. It is the nest of eternal safety. It is both a cloistered temple and an exposure to the elements. It is both a sense of self and a relationship with kin. It is your memories and habituations. It is your caring commitment to mothering your self. Feel what you feel. Submerge. Emerge. Here, you are safe. You are accepted. In your blood, you will always belong. We are all related.
MOVEMENT RITUAL: EMBODY THE FLOW
A prayer of gratitude for everyone reading these words and for being the lighthouse that you are. For yourself. For others. At this time. I bow to your courageous commitment to embody a consciousness that honors the one heart that connects us all in remembering, as Virginia says that, "We are all related."
Honored to be your sister, with love and reverence for the light that shines in us all,
NEW! ZIMBABWE RETREAT
November 18 - 25, 2017
Join Qoya teacher Betsy Blankenbaker on her fifth Qoya retreat in Zimbabwe! You will partner with House of Loveness on a service project to help the local community while also enjoying daily Qoya classes and rituals and exploring the incredible culture and natural beauty of Africa.
Click here to learn more.
RETREATS TO REMEMBER YOUR ESSENCE
Australia Retreat: November 10 - 15, 2017 - Enrollment opening soon!
Guatemala Retreat: January 20 - 17, 2018 - Enrollment opening soon!
India Retreat: March 2 - 11, 2018 - Enrollment opening soon!
Collective Retreat: March 24 - 31, 2018 - Enrollment opening soon!
INITIATION TEACHER TRAININGS
INTENSIVE TEACHER TRAININGS
Nosara, Costa Rica: March 31 - April 7, 2018 with Rochelle Schieck - opening soon!