Finding Strength through Surrender at the End of 2020

The light increases just one week after the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, and illuminates the moon fully in the sign of Cancer. As the Gregorian New Year approaches, the last full moon of 2020 offers us a moment to take good rest in the comfort of our own home, and to uncover what "home" truly means to us individually.

Cancer is a cardinal water sign, the emperor of emotion and beacon of flow. Water is the most changeable element in nature. It can evaporate with heat, douse a flame, and freeze in the presence of cold. Because of its impermanent nature, it is a wonderful metaphor for life itself. For example, it is referenced in the Tao Te Ching:

“The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content with the low places people distain. Thus it is like the Tao." ~ Lao Tzu

The full moon in Cancer relates to our home environment, emotional body, maternal lineage, capacity for nurturance, and process of catharsis. It highlights our capacity to acknowledge the coming and going of emotions, reflect on the body's need for rest, cleansing and release, and discover the heart's true refuge through the often difficult process of softening with what's here.

“Learning to listen intelligently to your body and your emotions will identify life imbalances.” ~ Robin Connelley

This full moon helps us to inquire what a "safe and comfortable home" means to us as individuals. You might ask: Does the concept of "home" involve four walls, a floor and ceiling? Or are its boundaries less rigid in terms of time and space? Does "home" reflect a person or group of people? A job? An identity? A feeling?


Often in seeking to fulfill a capitalistic social narrative, whether consciously or unconsciously, many of us search for a home outside of ourselves that promises happiness and the freedom to finally "let go." According to Buddhist philosophy, however, human suffering stems from attaching to things that are inherently bound to change.


With this frame of mind, the highest and most lasting expression of "home" would be that which we cannot take with us. Although there are certain requirements one may have in terms of living conditions, a way to experience a more permanent sense of "home" would be to access a spacious, non-judgmental, non-preferential, and heart-centered awareness.


As President Barack Obama stated at the Tucson Memorial Service in 2011:

"What matters is not wealth or status or power or fame, but rather how well we have loved."

If we can learn to relate with loving awareness to what's in our hearts, be it judgement, fear, fault finding, grief, or even joy and peace—we may discover a home inside loving presence itself. And we can cultivate and strengthen that ever-present relationship over time, with mindfulness practices such as journaling, meditation, breath awareness, time spent in nature, and conversing with a trusted other.


Like the student who can transform their yoga practice from purely physical to emotionally enriching by slowing down and acknowledging the breath within the yoga posture, we each have the potential to deepen and strengthen our relationship to ourselves by becoming more open and receptive to what's here. It is safe and necessary to have boundaries, as long as we can remain curious about what we're protecting.


If you are someone who tends to set goals or intentions for the new year, consider at this full moon the goal to be compassionate, caring and receptive to your own emotions and needs. How might strength come from surrender? You might start by letting things be just as they are right now. Here are a few inquires you might find helpful as part of a journaling or reflection ritual:


1. What are three ways in which I enjoy taking care of myself?


2. What are three reasons it is important for me to practice self-care?


3. What boundaries must I create to maintain a sense of autonomy?

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