The embodiment of hope
Hope acts as a counterbalance to fear, and the spring equinox is the perfect time to search for balance. By Lauren Bloxham
The spring equinox represents the balance between light and dark, the point at which day and night are equal length and the time from which days will finally start to grow longer than the nights again. It's a time of hope and possibility.
Spring is a time for sowing seeds. We prepare the soil, keep our seed trays warm and moist, we return to them frequently with the hope that they'll germinate. Some do, some don't. Some germinate but don't grow well, some germinate and thrive. Some thrive yet provide little fruit and some thrive and provide an abundance of fruit.
There's no certainty to the outcome of each seed, but there is hope which keeps us focused and diligently in service to the possibility of abundance along the way. The healthy balance between light and dark can connect us to the sweetness of uncertainty, the excitement of the unknown with the hope that things may just go well. Our actions in the process are the same regardless of the outcome; it's our hope that keeps us going.
The same goes for the seeds of hope within us. Whilst entertaining possibilities for our lives, we can't be certain of the outcome, but we can structure our time and remain in diligent service to the possibility that what we hope for will provide us with an abundance of fruit one day. Like an inner compass, hope keeps us going and gives us focus along the way. It's a point to aim for which makes our everyday habits and patterns rhythmical, motivated, and purposeful. It's the fuel which powers our creativity and ingenuity. Hope says, 'there is a way', 'it's possible', 'maybe'... and so we serve the possibility, we find ways to step closer to what we hope for, we adjust our actions along the way, we find balance between rest and work, and we dust ourselves off when we stumble, or things don't go as we might have hoped for.
Being hopeful doesn't mean we have to be optimistic to the exclusion of anything else though, and it's important that we don't exclude hope from our view of the world either. But holding the seed of possibility within us can not only focus us, but refocus us when we're in recovery from our setbacks and challenges.
Losing hope can be all too easy, particularly when we experience a run of setbacks, or when our lives have been built on rocky foundations. Daring to hope can feel dangerous, as though entertaining the possibility opens us to a crushing disappointment that we don't believe we can survive. It's at these times that we need hope the most though.
Daring to hope
The spring equinox reminds us that the darkness of winter doesn't last forever. Although we become accustomed to it in just the same way that we become accustomed to the darkness within us. The emergence of spring, the first snowdrops, the crocuses and the buds of the trees are the first responders to the warming of the earth and the increase in light. This emergence is the result of all the deep, dark work of the winter. The rest and root nourishment, the stillness and inward reflection. We don't know the light is upon us until the first glimmers of light emerge. The same is true for hope. It's during the darkness that it can be lost. When we find ourselves in deep retreat, we temporarily suspend the outside world, our vision, our goals. But these metaphorical winters serve to restore us, to reconnect us and to help us return to our roots. Winters are inevitable; we must allow the darkness to serve and nourish us in all the ways we need it to... and then we must welcome back the light. It's here that we must dare to hope.
Ask yourself the question: What if it works out well? What if I recover? What if I succeed? What if I am safe? What if I am loved?
When we ask the question, we begin to open ourselves to the possibility. The possibility leads us to feeling, and feeling can lead us to changing how we perceive our circumstances and ultimately how we take action.
Pick a question, notice how it makes you feel. Maybe there is strong resistance, a tensing of the jaw, a turning away, maybe there is a moment of excitement, the sense that there could be another way, maybe your whole being says 'yes' to the idea with a sense of deep relief.
This awareness allows us to work closely with ourselves. Just as we practice asana in a sustainable way, meeting our limitations with kindness and compassion, settling into a comfortable breath, so we can practice leaning towards hope with kindness. Where there is resistance, simply notice, simply lean gently into a space that mind and body says 'okay', but no further... breathe and hold that resistance in the awareness.
Something may shift, something may ease, we may come back to the same resistance over and over again. But compassionate awareness is everything, and this is how we begin to loosen the grip of a fixed mindset and softly begin to open ourselves up to broader possibilities.
Ultimately, when resistance dissolves and hope rises, awareness is lightened. Regardless of our circumstances, however challenging or painful they may be, hope is the messenger that says keep going, things will change.
When hope is embodied, it can feel like a counterweight to fear. Its gift is a more balanced perspective.
Regardless of the outcome, hope serves us by lightening the load along the way... so check in with your load, check in with your view, and ensure that hope is an integral part.
Practice yoga with Lauren Bloxham online (blackdogliving.com), in person in West Cornwall, or on retreat: 'Embodying the Elements' at Bala Brook retreat centre, Dartmoor National Park, April 20-23, 2023. Connect on Instagram @blackdogliving