Adam and I drove up to my dad's house over the weekend. Adam needed some highway driving hours and an hour north on the toll way seemed like a good way to break him in! My dad has a massive vegetable garden where the fun is in the growing and then giving the food away. He tried to give Adam and I something called a trinidad scorpion pepper...seriously?! Wonder what poor soul will end up with that delicacy! As a gardener for all, he also grows tall masses of milkweed just so the monarch butterflies will have a place all their own. The milkweed pods are protective of what lies within. The outer layer is hard. "Coincidentally", the symbolism behind the milkweed plant is "heartache cure."
When we suffer some type of heartbreak, a natural reaction is to put up walls, a protective outer coating, that allows us to harden to the external world. Our walls are an attempt to protect and preserve that space inside us that needs time to heal. In time, the milkweed pod breaks open and the softest, whitest fluff spills out into the world. Adam and I took some in our hand and let a delicate breeze take it away. The three of us stood there, watching the milkweed float higher and higher. I could see why it is referred to as the cure for heartaches as my spirit seemed to lift higher and higher along with the white fluff.
Naturalist F. Schuyler Mathews said, “Its pretty pods are familiar to every child, who treasure them until the time comes when the place in which they are stowed away is one mass of bewildering, unmanageable fluff. ... the first attempt to manipulate the lawless airy down usually results in disastrous confusion, and whole masses go floating away on the slightest zephyr.”
My grandfather used to use the word zephyr. It means a light wind, a gentle breeze. Milkweed uses the wind, so readily available, to help disperse its seeds. Itself light and airy, the breeze sweeps in efficiently, gratefully, gracefully.
Your yoga practice reminds you to use your breath in such a way that you feel your cares lighten; graceful compassion sweeping in, escalating your spirit...
I would like to tell you I used my yoga breath that day up at my dad's, but he also believes in allowing animals to house wherever they deem appropriate. I was helping him clean out his shed when I breathed in the unmistakable odor of a skunk. I ran out of the shed into fresh air, my dad in disbelief.
"But they've never sprayed before," he said. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Where are they?" He pointed to a hole near the shed door that ran underneath it (where he sets hay so they can drag it in and be comfortable!). "Our cleaning must have disturbed them." (!!!) I said, "I think the Universe is telling us (blatantly) it is time to stop for the day."
Yoga has a tool for this problem, too! Remember to breathe when not in the proximity of skunks and rely on breath retention when caught off guard!!
From Radiance Sutra #4: "In any quiet moment when you are breathing, the breath may flow out and pause of itself, or flow in and pause of itself. There experience opens into an exquisite vastness with no beginning and no end. Embrace that infinity without reservation. Dive into it, drink deeply of it and emerge renewed."