Sunday, August 25, 2013

bathing in full-ness

Full moon over Osaka as I cycled home from onsen.

Sometimes, the full moon makes me want to howl, or yell, or run amok but there are other times its energy is much more subtle. This last full moon, August 21, had me singing.

Ever since I started observing them, moon days have taken special shape, each one special to the month or season, each one marking with uncanny precision a new or full-filling part of my own personal cycle.

Last Wednesday was a blue full moon--blue because it's a part of a season of full moons. I observed this full moon evening by going with some students to an onsen or Japanese bath house. And though the visit was not intentionally to celebrate the moon cycle, I was tickled at the synchronicity of it.

Here I was in the company of women: Naked, washing with ritual precision, so much attention to loving one's body, to purifying first the external skin, then slowly negotiating out internal toxins as one moves from hot bath to cold bath, sauna or steam room. Then to just lie there, under the night sky, feeling the heat of hot water on rock, breathing. Being. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. Just relaxing into my own body.

There is so much beauty in bathing, in the act of it, in the taking of time.  Of giving one's self time and space to simply be. It is an act of loving oneself.

I had to ask myself: how much time do we really give to ourselves in this way? (It's nice to be in a culture where going to take baths is a common practice. I know that the Japanese work hard, but they also take their down-time seriously, as well.)

And as we give to ourselves, as we nourish our selves and answer our own needs, we have more, more for ourselves and more for others, more to give, more to share.

And even though embodying my fullness continues to be a (life-long) project, moments such as these remind me that I am simply cycling. That becoming full is a part of a process. That, at times, we must empty to make space for newness.

So, bathing with the moon in its fullness had me singing. Singing on the bike ride home. Singing on my rooftop to the blur of luminous white peeking through the cloudy night sky, knowing that the fullness is there, whether or not I could see it. 

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