Having the pleasure of hosting two of my young friends visiting from out of town for the week, I knew I had to make sure they witnessed this week’s stunning solar eclipse. At the ages of twelve and seventeen, they had never had the opportunity to see one before. So bright and early on Monday morning, we traveled to a local planetarium where we waited to buy a couple pairs of the remaining 140 pairs of solar eclipse glasses the planetarium had left. When we arrived at the planetarium about two hours before the glasses were to go on sale, there were a dozen people ahead of us. This is what happens when you wait until the last minute to take part in such a spectacular event. Getting up early and seeing the people ahead of us gave me flashbacks of Black Fridays past. With our arrival at the planetarium, we eager eclipse watchers quickly organized ourselves and decided to pass out numbers to all present according to arrival time so as to avoid any confusion or chaos when the glasses went on sale. Seems none of us wanted a Black Friday brawl over a chance to stare at the sun. Perhaps these sun gazers were also peace loving treehuggers, just my kind of tribe.
By the time the planetarium ticket office opened, the line of sun gazers had curled upon itself. Luckily for us, our early arrival guaranteed us the solar eclipse glasses we needed to feast our eyes upon the sun. But before the big event, we sat down to enjoy a show in the planetarium’s dome theater.
As we settled into the darkness and viewed the countless stars above our heads, the planetarium’s astrophysicist showed us the planets in our solar system, the sun, the moon and explained what happens during a solar eclipse. But before ending our lesson and ushering us out to see the big event of the day, he did one of my favorite things. He showed us our solar system and then zoomed out from the solar system to show us exactly where we are within the Milky Way. If you’ve never seen this before, it’s amazing. We are minuscule! We’re on a minor arm of the Milky Way called the Orion Spur and the solar system isn’t visible without zooming way, way in. The vastness is mind blowing for me every time! And it puts everything into perspective for me, reminding me that we are so infinitesimal that we aren’t even the ants of the universe. Thanks for that, Mr. Astrophysicist.
At the show’s end and now knowing our sun’s place and our place in the galaxy, we ventured out into the sunlight to see this much anticipated event of the day. Donning our retro, yet futuristic solar eclipse glasses, we gazed up at the sun and watched the moon coolly pass over it, creating a beautiful crescent sun. My friends, my cousin and I decided it was a perfect moment to share in savasana - a resting yoga pose. So, we stretched a blanket out on the ground and partook in this resting yoga pose and glanced up at the wonder in the sky.
Lying there in savasana looking up at something much larger than ourselves and yet something so tiny in the universe, I realized the perfection and connection of the moment. Patanjali’s eightfold path of yoga includes the yamas and niyamas which form a moral code of conduct. One of the niyamas is Ishvara pranidhana which basically means surrender to something larger than yourself. Surrender to love, to peace, to God, to the Universe. Surrender to and serve something larger than yourself. At that moment, staring up at the sun and moon, I couldn’t help but think how millions of us across the country at that same moment were collectively surrendering to something larger than ourselves whether we realized it or not, bringing us closer in love and spirit. And at a time of such virulence and divisiveness in our country, it is desperately needed. So let us continue to do it!
Ishvara pranidhana, my friends. Surrender, surrender, surrender.
I am grateful for this harmonious experience and I am forever changed.
Much love! Namaste!
Anietie blogs about what moves her which is usually yoga, the arts and love.