The Space Between
By Sharon Cardel, June, 2019
Spring is here. Now that we are squarely set in the season, I can admit that I have difficulty with the time just before spring. A time with little definition that stays for far too long after the cold of winter ends. It is that waiting time between seasons, when the chill holds no promise of warm days. We wait for any sign of life to bud from the trees; any hint of growth to break through the hard ground. It is an uneasy phase. Buddhism describes the period between death and rebirth as the Bardo state. It is a suspension between lifetimes, thought to present great opportunity for spiritual growth, but also chance for slipping backward. Does that time between the stillness of winter and the budding of new life in spring offer the same chance for reflection and growth?
During our days in this body, we are visited by times of “bardo”, when our usual way of life is disrupted and the chronology of our days suspends. Death, illness, and loss provide these opportunities for change and growth. Hard as these times are, they are also times when we are most open to new possibilities. If we can learn to sit with the discomfort that often arises from not knowing, we have the chance to start the next phase with greater clarity and strength. If we can sit with the loneliness that arises during these times, we can grow from the pain. We can turn the arrows fired at us into flowers. We can achieve more self-knowledge and realization.
Learn that life is full of discomfort, but that the discomfort is not us.
In yoga class, we breathe in and we breathe out. In between those breaths, there is a moment of suspension. A fraction at the end of each exhale before the new inhale commences. Perhaps a moment that holds a seed of death? Sometimes the teacher will ask us to extend that time between breaths. To suspend after the exhale and, in a small way, create that state of Bardo. To give ourselves the chance to grow just a bit more than we might without the challenge of this discomfort. I find this exercise excruciating. There is nothing familiar. All definition disappears. From that lack of definition, unlimited opportunities arise. Oh, the multitude of lessons this simple exercise can provide if we don’t run away or hide. It is a chance that we can create for ourselves to begin anew over and over again. The space between… is where the magic can happen.