Honoring Cycles - The Process of Destruction
The other day a giant excavator came rumbling into our backyard and demolished a shed, plowed over a bunch of vegetation and dug a giant hole right outside the kitchen window. It was the first day of breaking ground for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) being built on the lot we rent. The whole day felt like chaos and mayhem - the dog scurried from window to window, not knowing what to make of all the noise and movement, and my housemates and I moved through the house with an undercurrent of tension. It felt like our home was being invaded and we all sort of hunkered down with the curtains drawn, trying to ride it out. It was an intense day for our sensitive, introverted souls.
The next day I awoke to see a perfectly crafted hole in the backyard that will serve as the foundation of a new house. For the next few weeks I will get to watch as this new house is built (they are prepping to pour the concrete foundation as I write this), and possibly witness people moving in and create a home.
It’s a bittersweet experience. I loved that shed that was demoed. It was my makeshift practice space where I could go with some privacy and work through the energies and emotions of all the monumental changes I’ve been experiencing. It was also storage for our bikes and gardening tools. That corner of the yard held a tiny greenhouse, flowering trees and bushes, a garden bed and green space. It was pretty damn magical out there.
However I live in a city with a housing crisis where people are desperately looking for places to live. The expanse of our yard, even with it being cut in half for this new unit, is a luxury many cannot have. My seeming “loss” could be someone else’s answered prayer.
There is this Sanskrit mantra I love to chant at the beginning of my kirtan gatherings called the Guru Mantra:
Guru devo Maheshwara
Guru sakshat, param Brahma
tasmai shri guravay namah
It loosely translates to:
The guru is Brahma
The guru is Vishnu
The guru is Shiva
The guru is nearby and the guru is everywhere
To the guru, I offer all that I am
Brahma is the Hindu god of creation. Vishnu is the Hindu god considered the sustainer. Shiva (Maheshwara is another name for Shiva) is the Hindu god of destruction. Guru is teacher.
This is a mantra about honoring cycles and what we can learn from them. It’s acknowledging that each part of the cycle is necessary for growth. It reminds us not to resist any part, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel, and to stay open to what it has to teach us. It helps us to surrender, trust in the process and remember that we can learn from any situation if we're open to it.
In many wisdom traditions students are taught about the element of destruction first. We need to learn how to let what doesn’t serve us anymore fall away before we can heal and grow. This process can be pretty intense. Our ego likes to cling to what it knows, even if it’s destructive, due to fear of the unknown and its attachment to identifying with external stuff (i.e. job titles, relationships, socioeconomic status, etc.). It can feel a bit like a terrifying wrestling match, or like the rug has been pulled out from underneath us and we can’t tell which way is up or what we can firmly stand on. It can feel disorienting, tiring and even depleting at times. It can feel like loss of epic proportions, especially when it’s the destruction of something we love.
However, as intense as the destruction part of the cycle is, it’s necessary if we want to evolve, and is pretty much unavoidable while we live on this planet. It’s in the nature of our existence here.
What I find really cool is that these cycles are played out around us all the time - from the changing of the seasons, the cycles of the moon, the birth, life, and death of a living creature, to the demo and construction of an ADU on a rental property. And in each of these scenarios we have an opportunity to learn a little bit more about ourselves. How we respond to these external circumstances shines a light on how we’re honoring our own cycles of growth. Every one of these experiences is a potential teacher. We just have to be open to it.
I’m not going to lie and say I’m particularly excited about the construction going on in my backyard. It’s drastically changing the dynamic of my home and there are a lot of unknowns at this point - how long will it take, how noisy will it be, is the construction crew friendly, will the new neighbors be cool, where will I hang my punching bag for workouts...However I know that I have a choice on how I approach this experience. I can resist the change and fall into worrying about the unknown, which will only lead to suffering, or I can choose to surrender to the change, knowing that it’s inevitable and that this is where I learn. I can choose to trust in life’s ability to pleasantly surprise me, like it has so many times before, and fall back on my practices that remind me of this truth time and time again. I'm happy to say it's a pretty obvious choice for me.
So if you’re going through the process of change right now, particularly the destruction phase, I want to remind you that nothing is wrong. It’s all a part of the process that leads to growth. Cut yourself some slack and lean on the support that shows up. Stay open to the possibility that life is conspiring to support you in becoming the fullest expression of yourself, even if it doesn’t feel that great right now. Be soft with yourself and fall back on activities and practices that help you feel connected and joyful. Remind yourself to trust, over and over again, and do your best to surrender to the cycle.
If you're not really sure what practices to do, maybe I can help. Contact me here to ask questions.