Lying belly-down in the clear shallow water, tiny fish nibble softly at my hands and feet.
A small bright blue flying creature flicks herself again and again into a backbend, brushing her long jewel like body between iridescent wings.
Pond-skaters collide excitedly on surface tension, forming curious constellated circle shadow patterns on the rocky stream bed.
Last week on retreat this walking into the stream and lying down became as much a part of my daily practice as meditation and yoga.
Did I enjoy more the electric caress of cool water creeping up my spine to the nape of my neck, or the feeling of my floating legs and feet being stroked by the rough stream bed?
In no hurry
Listening, watching, feeling, floating
I experienced my place in the ecosystem
Listening inwardly and outwardly
Letting myself belong.
I realised after a few days a slight background fear of the edges of the stream. Staying away and yet my gaze drawn there again and again. A sense of something lurking. So I bob over to get close to those shadowy, cobwebby, murky sides. A bit slimy looking with ominous holes and dark crevices.
In the darkness, hordes of spidery pond-skaters clamber over one another hungry for a dead fly. Tangled roots festooned with streaming green slime hang messily into the depths. It seems a world away from the clear sparkly flow of water bejewelled with silvery fish, where I lay smiling.
We can feel a clean and clear flow through our middle, pulling us into alignment with the source of life. Our willingness to be here. It feels so good.
We may also notice out of the corner of an eye a lurking discontent or disharmony that we try to ignore. Or perhaps our habit is to poke and prod the shady places, or to wallow endlessly in the mud.
Can we take a step back? Get a wider view. Clear water and muddy banks co-existing.
Letting it all be here.
Perhaps something on the river bank, a big fat toad, is whispering something to us.
Staying open and receptive and asking with kindness, what is our growing edge? The sometimes-shadowy place that we would rather stay away from?
How is it to be in our good clear flow, enjoying the aliveness of nibbling fish, and giving space for the discomfort also?
Sometimes in our life there arrive moments of transition, from one mode of being to another. Staying as much as possible in a clear flow, aligned to what we love and with company of good people - not avoiding the shadows but not getting stuck in the mud - can really help.
The last day of the retreat was a moment of initiation for me. Transitioning out of marriage and into a new phase of being legally single - 'Decree Absolute!' - I found support in the deep silence of the retreat, and imagining loving hands of my ancestors on my back as I wondered about my name.
I roll slowly onto my back and gaze at the sky, feeling the water holding me from behind. A blue-winged creature rests on the island of my hand, eyeing me curiously. Pond-skaters nudge into my belly. I let my skull fall slowly back into water’s embrace as fish nibble my bottom. Enjoying the rhythm of body emerging and submerging which accompanies breathing. Effortlessly my head, upper torso and feet rise up out of the water and I find myself in Navasana, the boat pose. I marvel at the ease and naturalness of being in this pose actually in the water. The thought crosses my mind, was this pose meant to be done in shallow water?
I see if I can leave the water without a splash or a sound. So slowly. Drawing myself onto smooth water worn rocks the bones fall into a curious jigsaw with the stony undulations of the bank. I lie heavily in this strangely natural shape as porous grey stone absorbs water from skin, and skin drinks in sun.
No one else can tell us how to live our life. How to love what we love. How to let ourselves be loved.
Being open to invitations and encouragement, willing to practice, receptive to kind support, and in a mode of discovery we can find our way towards falling in love with a life that includes clear bright flow as well as shadowy edges.