As a high-energy extrovert, new moon has become a favourite and much-needed time of the month for me. A phase of introspection, release and stillness. Tonight, July 17th 2023, at 20:31 CET the moon will be 0% illuminated. Wherever you are, perhaps you'll join me outside for a sesh of new moon metaphysics, musings, & meditation ? :-)
By choice and good fortune, I have been living my life in the Spanish and Portuguese countryside for almost 4 years. Over time, undisturbed by light pollution, the lunar phases gradually seeped into my awareness, sensitising me to the effects of the moon’s waning and waxing on my state of mind and body.
New moon represents a monthly invitation to fold into introspection and stillness, the inky black twinkling sky devoid of expectation and judgement. I sit in stillness under a blanket of stars, the body wrapped around my breath, like the darkness wraps my body. There’s release and relief in exhaling deeply into the vast darkness. To me, this darkness symbolizes coming home to that graceful state of not-knowing. Remembering emptiness ― ‘not-knowing’ ― as the fullness of being.
Emptiness means to be full of everything but empty of a separate existence. To me, this is the essence of New Moon energy, understanding emptiness as the fullness of being. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about this notion extensively in his commentary of the Heart Sutra (see link below).
Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know. ― Wisława Szymborska
New moon is a time to connect with source, retreating back into the seed of what I once was. Before I was born. Before my parents were born even. Folding back and back, to the seed of creation. How do I relate to this nothingness/fulness? And how do I relate to that fact that to live means to levitate in a continuous state of becoming? Like frozen in time, such is the vast continuum of life ― cycles endlessly repeating ― and everything in hot flux at the same time. Every moment exquisite and strange in its uniqueness.
If life is a ceremony, then the space of my conscious awareness is the temple. My every action taken from that space, a ritual. May I continue to polish this diamond awareness so that my actions may be a string of rituals. One flowing into the next. From the seemingly mundane to the exciting. How beautiful. Would you agree that the ordinary becomes extraordinary when infused with conscious presence? Do you think one must wait for a gorgeous twinkling night sky, or can you take matters into your own hands and diligently stack your days with awe with whatever you find lying around?
Sometimes when I walk around in a shop or wait for a red light with strangers, I marvel at the odds of being in the same place at the same time with this exact group of people. And then someone leaves or enters the shop, the traffic light jumps, and the unique, once-in-a-lifetime moment disintegrates into the rumble of trillions of moments passed since the beginning of time. Our entire lives are like that. Every second. Everything rises and everything falls away. To me, it’s a notion of crushing magnitude that makes me wonder why we aren't continuously falling into each other's arms in exuberant wonder and gratitude for this tiny, fleeting snuff of time we have in this earthly existence. Then I remember how incredibly privileged I am to even have the time to think about these things ;-)
A New Moon contemplation…
New moon is literally the beginning of a new cycle, a fresh slate, and so the perfect time to calibrate our inner compass in accordance to our values. A great time to ask ourselves some questions to determine if we are on track. Skilful questions will lead onwards to clarity and freedom, whereas unskilful questions can lead to confusion, bewilderment, or a dead end.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. ― Lao Tzu
Towards the end of a meditation session, or just throughout the day, it can be helpful to ask yourself one or more of the questions below, compiled by meditation teacher Jennifer Stanely. The answers will come through your heart and an embodied knowing rather than intellectual thought process. Inquiry is meant to take the time it takes—sometimes the embodied answers arrive instantly, other times it can take years. Personally, I find that at least half of the pay-off is in asking myself the questions, regardless of whether I can find a satisfying answer. As with many things, it's about the journey, not the destination. So even just sitting with the energy of a question, noticing what arises and where in the body it 'lands' can be insightful. Try to love the questions themselves, and be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart.
What am I believing?
What do you think one should do before one dies?
How can I pause throughout the day; what would that be like?
What is happening right now?
How am I relating to what is happening?
What would contentment look like in a moment, a day, in a life?
What do I need to be at peace?
How do I relate to myself when I disconnect?
What would it be like to connect with my heart?
What would it be like to be more loving, more kind to myself and others?
What am I unwilling to feel? What am I holding on to?
What do I want to let go of?
What can be let go of?
What do I want to unlearn?
What is important?
What is most important?
How do I devote my energy (or not) to what is most important?
What do I want people to know about me?
What do I want to know about others?
What are my core values?
What are my guiding values?
What would it take to live in accord with my core/guiding values?
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. ― Rainer Maria Rilke
Happy new moon my friends, may we bathe our senses in darkness, sitting with the seed of becoming, the grace of not-knowing, and understanding emptiness as the fullness of being.
Recommended read on the fullness of emptiness by Thich Nhat Hanh: