Moon Lesson • The Deep Dive
The fishing tribes of North America are given credit for the naming of this Moon (the full Sturgeon Moon). It’s during this moon cycle that sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught. A few tribes knew this moon as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon to acknowledge the time just before the corn and other staples were ready for harvest.
Taking a lesson from the native people of this land, we too can master the art of paying attention — reclaim our ability to know when it’s time to dive in and when to stay on shore. This month tends to run hot in the northern hemisphere, so we want to be conscious of whether we are diving to escape or diving to go deeper. Let’s look at our tools for staying mindful this month; let’s use them to go deeper.
This month we will look at the “bridge precept” of the Eight Limbed Path as prescribed by Patajali: Pratyahara. Pratyahara is a Sanskrit term meaning "withdrawal of the senses." Pratyahara is derived from the Sanskrit roots prati, meaning "away" or "against," and ahara, meaning "nourishment" or "food." The whole word denotes a withdrawal from what feeds or stimulates the senses.
Pratyahara is considered important in yoga because it forms a bridge between the externally focused limbs of yoga (like yamas, niyamas, asana and pranayama) and the internally focused limbs which move you deeper — dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and, eventually, to samadhi (union with the Divine).
Pratyahara comes after the earlier limbs of yoga because, before the senses are turned inwards the mind must be purified and calmed by yama, niyama and pranayama. When the senses are withdrawn, they become absorbed by the mind itself, rather than distracting the mind with the external environment. This allows you to experience your true inner Self.
It is said that once you’ve mastered pratyahara, you will never again experience distraction or need to withdraw from the world in order to meditate. You will simply be able to turn the senses inward and know peace. Imagine that. Strike that! Don't just imagine it. Practice it.
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Practice until it becomes your reality.
Honestly, you have probably already been practicing pratyahara to a degree. When you bring your awareness to your breath and as a result, you draw your awareness away from external stimuli, you are practicing pratyahara. In the early stages of yoga nidra ("yogic sleep"), when you are focused only on the instructions of guided meditation and all other external information is filtered out, you are practicing pratyahara. Now, begin to practice this on purpose. Draw back from that which does not serve you and focus your light on something that does.
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Consider the spirit of the Sturgeon. The spirit of sturgeon reflects the depth of our determination to continue on a positive path. Sturgeons are long-lived, late maturing fishes. Their average lifespan is 50 to 60 years, and their first spawn does not occur until they are around 15 to 20 years old. Sturgeons do not spawn every year because they require specific conditions, much like us. They do not have teeth and have poor vision, so they must rely on other senses for gathering food for nourishment. Ahem...sound like someone's journey? There have been sturgeon fossils which date as far back as 245 million years ago. To date, sturgeons have undergone remarkably little morphological change, indicating their evolution has been exceptionally slow and has earned them informal status as living fossils. What an incredible spirit guide to have, eh?
Water spirit animals in general help us reveal and identify our hidden thoughts...bringing the subconscious to the surface. This could be hidden fears or your deepest desires. The idea is to bring this to the surface for your own reflection and self study. It’s about lighting your path with knowledge. Our yoga teachings suggest that it is in this space of Truth that our inner peace resides and flourishes.
Now consider the Medicine Woman archetype. The Medicine Woman is considered the most primal feminine archetype we identify with. In ancient cave paintings and sculptures all over the world she prays and dances. She journeys deep within her Womb, communes with her guiding spirits, heals and restores body and soul, and is the midwife of birth and death. She holds the powers of vision, healing and truth. That’s powerful stuff.
And there’s more.
She holds the gift of energy healing and expanded consciousness. She sees the past and future and sees deep into the hearts of others. Her passion is to serve and restore harmony, balance and healing to humanity and the Earth. She is the aspect within us that is ready to return as part of a greater human awakening.
And, most importantly, every Medicine Woman understands to contribute in whole to the greater human awakening, she must first heal and awaken her own Self first. As you've been on this journey through Thirteen Moons, this is precisely the work you’ve been doing.
How do you feel about the depths of your sacred presence and your personal power? When you consider your Medicine Woman, her job is to continually provide you with “medicines” that nourish you. A cup of tea before starting your day. A reiki session before you sleep at night. Pausing before you respond. Giving breath to gratitude and folding it into your primary language. Accepting that everyone is at a different point along their own journey, including and especially your own family. These are all medicines that we’ve explored on this journey together. Now it’s time to bring forth your inner Medicine Woman and ask on behalf of yourself the following question:
What medicine will I continue to take to further deepen my connection to my Feminine Divine?
There are many deities and goddesses that embody the healing aspects of our Medicine Woman. Please click here (https://www.refinery29.com/goddess-names-female-deities-cultural-mythology) to read about a few kickass female deities I absolutely adore from other cultures. But, to work within the realm of Hindu based deities this month, I’m introducing a male figure, Lord Shiva, to support and inspire your inner Medicine Woman. I selected Shiva because of his connection to delving deeper.
Shiva is depicted with a visible and prominent third eye on his forehead and between his eyebrows. This is the eye of insight, intuition, wisdom, and knowledge and when this eye is open it is able to clearly see the truth in all situations. Shiva is the destroyer of evil or ills and embodies courage through action. Shiva is believed to be able to assist us with destroying any old habits, thought patterns, and behaviors so that we can release the old and prepare for the new. This includes destroying our illusions, attachments, past karma, and any past memories that cause us to suffer, so that we can transcend all that holds us back.
We each have dominant aspects to our human character and we each have oppressed, submissive, and controlled aspects to our being. We all have secret wishes, ambitions, dreams, and aspirations that we have not yet put into action or fully actualized. When you work with your archetypes or tap into the lessons of our spirit guides or the qualities of our deity inspiration — in other words, when you chose to actively pick up your Medicine — you simultaneously awaken hidden parts of your nature and activate your innate gifts and abilities. This is pratyahara in action; this is you mixing your own magick potions; this is you embodying the courage and spirit of Shiva. This is you deep diving into life.
Moon Time Exploration
Ultimately, my offering to you for this moon cycle is this:
While we often strive to achieve balance in our lives. Heck, I’ve said many times that this journey is about reclaiming your personal power. And I know, for many of you that translates to “finding balance”. But here’s the thing, this year is not as much about finding that constant equilibrium, as it is about learning how to master the extremes as they come up. In this way, you will no longer be fearful of your most passionate feelings or scared of what you might discover in the depths of your solitude. You will have reclaimed control over how you live in each moment. You will have transformed your primary language from one of doubt and disbelief to one of pure love and possibility.
5 min Journey Practice
Shiva, if you recall from one of our Asana Foundation practices of an earlier lesson, has another name, Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. His primary role as part of the Trimurti (the holy three) is to perform the dance to destroy all the ills and evils of the world. In this act of destruction, he brings forth the birth of a new cycle. This month, sit in sukhasana with the uttarabodhi mudra as seen in the videos below. Ask yourself one question (yes, it's the same question as before because the answer is important):
What medicine should I continue to take to further deepen my connection to my Feminine Divine?
Write the answer you receive down in your journal. This is your next best step for each and everyday until you choose otherwise.
If you’re feeling up for it...share your deep dive discoveries with us in our private Facebook forum.