What To Do During An Eclipse
This week, we experience a partial lunar eclipse, which will be visible largely from Asia and Australia. We are also approaching a total solar eclipse, two weeks from now, that will be visible across much of the United States. As we contemplate this week’s lunar eclipse and look ahead to the solar eclipse, I would like to share some thoughts on how we can best understand this cosmic phenomenon and its potency to catalyze our spiritual growth.
A lunar eclipse, as we see this week, happens when the Earth passes between the moon and the sun, blocking the light that the full moon would normally reflect. A solar eclipse, as we see on August 21, happens when the new moon passes between the Earth and the sun and temporarily blocks the sun’s light from part of the Earth.
From a worldly perspective, the sun is the center of our universe. Similarly, our ego and will are the center of our own personal universe, driven by our likes and dislikes. During a solar eclipse, we lose sight of that common vantage point.
For this reason, an eclipse is not considered an auspicious time to do business. This does not mean to simply be idle. Because it is a dark time when things are more difficult to fully understand and perceive, it is best to not make major decisions. Some aspects of a deal will be eclipsed, and only come to light once the returning sun illuminates areas that were obscured from view.
CONNECT TO THE INFINITE LIGHT WITHIN
However, for a spiritual aspirant, an eclipse provides an optimal time for spiritual progress and selfless service. During the dimming light, your attachment to your ego is dulled, allowing you to access the light of pure consciousness that animates the universe. As such, an eclipse offers you an opportunity for insight into your true nature, and profound and lasting release of your limited, egoic perceptions.
Each eclipse can vary in its significance, based on the astrological influences at play. But in general, a lunar eclipse is a time to understand the release of shadow, the attachment to ego identity. To approach this week’s eclipse with the perspective of a yogi is to pray for the release of shadow within yourself and within the whole. The solar eclipse’s teaching is to understand the true spiritual value of this incarnation, beyond what is material. It calls you to embody your own essence as eternal light.
For those who live where the eclipse is visible, the ancient sages recommend to stay indoors, fast, keep silence and meditate for the period that the light is dimmed, without looking at the eclipse. Even today, teachers like Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) advise their followers to pray and fast indoors, drawing the blinds, while the eclipse takes place. This may run counter to a desire to witness the rare phenomenon of the sun being darkened in the sky. Some may wish to dismiss such time-honoured recommendations as superstition. But during an eclipse period more than ever, you cannot see the full picture of what is happening and where your highest good lies. The atmosphere is murky. All that you perceive through your five senses will be distorted. In order to benefit, you must withdraw. The best choice is to meditate and to release all wanting, including the desire to engage with an eclipse from an intellectual mind. Grace comes when you turn your attention to the divine.
MEDITATE AND WORK MINDFULLY
The effects of an eclipse are felt most strongly on the days leading up to it, and then a day or two after it has passed. If you are at work during this period, then allow spiritual awareness to be present in all you do. This is also a great period to do selfless service. Approach your tasks not from a place of personal gain, but as an offering to the whole. Feel yourself as part of the interconnected, luminous fabric of life. Keep your mind quiet and relaxed while you work. Avoid letting your ego get involved. Make your best effort to act without attachments to the fruits of your actions. Enjoy the work as an end in itself, rather than focusing on personal gain.
If you have a spiritual practice, take every chance you can during this period to “step it up”, meditate longer, surrender more. Through this, you fuel your connection to the infinite source of light. Then this connection can stay with you, even after the tempting attraction to the temporal light of the sun returns and the window into the mysteries of pure consciousness is harder to find.
There is an important note to be made here. An eclipse should not be seen as a way to attain a goal, even a spiritual one. During an eclipse, do not attempt to acquire or achieve. On the other hand, do not allow the murkiness of an eclipse to enable any sort of inertia or mental fog. Commit to clarity and presence. The opportunity of spiritual maturation is only for those who truly seek the cessation of their own ego and all sense of separateness.
EXERCISE: YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Even if you don’t have a spiritual practice, you can still cultivate deep presence during this eclipse with a simple meditation practice. Here is how.
Find a relaxed place where you feel you can allow yourself to sit quietly. Then consider the thought that you are in the dark. From the physical point of view, an eclipse is affecting the Earth. You are now in shadow more than ever. Your body casts a shadow. From the mental point of view, your mind is full of shadows: dissatisfactions, unfulfilled desires, a nagging feeling of lack, and lingering, painful emotions.
Consider the ways in which your life is driven by wanting. Consider that much of what you think you want would not in fact bring you happiness, because it would not change the presence of painful feelings within you. Suffering ceases when you let go of seeing yourself as disconnected from the whole.
Be willing to feel now that you are part of a much greater picture. Consider this in relation to your place with those around you, then your place on the planet, then your place within the universe.
Open to the possibility that beyond all that you think you are, is an infinite expanse of pure possibility.
Allow yourself to expand beyond limiting self-perceptions. Surrender them to the light of pure consciousness. Let them go into the darkness of the eclipse, like a cosmic recycling bin. Allow yourself to continue to expand, while remaining rooted in your body.
Sense that you are in fact an infinite ray in that endless field of light. You always have been. Only your attachment to ego and limited perception has eclipsed this from you.
Allow yourself to expand more, and then even more. If you are a visual person, sense yourself becoming that light. Stay in your body. Feel your body. This is not about leaving to find some other more hallowed place. The moment you are in is already holy. Allow the light of pure consciousness to fill you up. This is who you are. There is no need to try to go “out there” to find it. There is no “making” it happen. You are not the doer. The infinite field of light is. All you have to do is allow this experience to unfold.
Whether or not you feel lighter, allow yourself to feel the possibly of something much bigger than your daily life, something so vast it is beyond reason, something so infinitely full of love and possibility that you know you are eternally loved and received. In this quiet place, allow your soul to flower and your mind to simply be.
This is a time of possibility. We can allow pure consciousness to become the driver of our lives, or we can continue to live in the shadow of a persistent eclipse: our attachments to that which obstructs our view of who we truly are. Let us awaken to the reality that we are infinite beings of love and light.
I would love to hear from you about your experiences during the eclipse. Have you sensed a change in the atmosphere, or in yourself? As the shadow of the eclipse approaches, can you feel a potent quiet pervading the world beneath the level of your five senses? How have you stepped up your practice to take advantage of the eclipse? Whether you are reading this post in the leadup to the August 21, 2017 eclipse or at the time of a later eclipse, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below.
May we all swiftly realize the absolute light of pure consciousness that we are.
Love our world.
We are one Earth family.