On life and death. Dancing the Tandava.
One of my favourite asana (yoga pose) is Natarajasana or the Asana of Nataraj. Nataraj is another name for Shiva and translates something like: Lord of the Dance. This is the Dance of Shiva – the source of destruction, dissolution and death. Because from destruction comes creation, birth and preservation. We can think of it as the cycle of birth and death. Creation and destruction.
The asana as interpreted in the current yoga community is a beautiful backbend. One foot on the ground perhaps to steady us or maybe to destroy the demons. And then the openness for what is to come. Whatever the cosmic cycle of life and death will teach us.
If you read my newsletters or follow me on social media (Insta or FB) you will know that the past year or so has been a time of change and transformation. We moved out of London to the seaside. Two days after our move I facilitated a retreat in Sri Lanka. There was a lot going on.
As we started settling in our new home, getting used to the commute to London and our surroundings… more travels. This time to be with dad as he went through a total of 3 major operations. It was so tough to witness my strong dad being so vulnerable and showing so much pain. Being on drugs, painkillers and needing help (when he really just want to be left alone in peace and quiet). After a few months he had enough, got a lung infection, never really recovered and passed on. The dissolution and death of him as we knew him.
I am obviously still grieving. It’s 3 months since his passing. It’s change. And that is the cycle of life. We are all dying. I am grateful he only suffered for as long as he did. I am also, in a strange way, grateful that we had the time of his decline so we could say goodbye and prepare for the final exhale. So it’s ok. I can not imagine life with him being dependent, in care or continuously on a cocktail of strong painkillers – knowing that soon he would need his other leg amputated.
Dad practised yoga. He went to classes until his legs couldn’t do it any longer. He meditated in his own way, he had his afternoon naps/meditations – or yoga nidra. He was present in the now. Content on his own. And he was breathing.
For me this time is a practise of letting go, being and allowing. Sitting with the uncomfortable.
As the cycle continues my mother-in-law just passed on too. Her dissolution into death took a long time. And her journey has been a challenge to witness. Right now, for me, it still feels unreal. She was in the late stages of dementia for a number of years. Bed bound and in a place where we could only imagine what was going on in her mind and body. It’s the most horrible of dis-eases I have encountered. We have no idea what she was thinking, experiencing or feeling. We could imagine but not really knowing. Her children with her as she finally found freedom.
Death and dis-ease, our own or from those around us, gives us a reminder of life. Of how we want to live and what is important. What we want to create, birth and preserve. What we want to release. So the dance of the Tandava continues everyday.
I birthed a new home in a new town. I am preserving this beautiful space, near the sea and beach. My relationships: in love and friendships. I am creating by writing, sharing, facilitating yoga (which feels so much more potent now. I may be the “facilitator” or “yoga teacher” but when I teach I am in the flow, I am present, and simply being – and I am being part of a healing practise. For me too). I am also being rebirthed as we are continuously changing. Every experience we encounter we choose how to respond. All our experiences start to shape us. And we choose how we want to be shaped.
The cycle of creation, birth, preservation and dissolution is present all the time. We are dancing the Tandava. Dance and life is a personal expression. You choose how to express your dance. Where, how and with whom you want to dance the Tandava. Your life experience. And the Tandava and life (and death) becomes your yoga, your spiritual practise, your meditation.