Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas -- Day 7

January 17th day  

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
seven swans a-swimming

New Year's Day meant diddlysquat to the early Christians, but in the modern calendar it does mark the halfway point in the 12 Days. january 1I for one am happy to know that I have only five more days of wisdom to impart, and if you are still reading this you maybe you will see me through to the grand Epiphany.

The seven swans are the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. What are these, you ask?

  1. Wisdom (according to Thomas Aquinas linked to the virtue of Charity).
  2. Understanding: linked to Faith
  3. Counsel (Right Judgment): linked to Prudence
  4. Courage: linked to Fortitude
  5. Knowledge: linked to Hope
  6. Piety: linked to Justice
  7. Fear of the Lord: linked to Temperance

Seven throughout the Biblical traditions is associated with fullness, completion, and perfection. But we are not yet done here! And far from perfect at that!

Step Seven asks God to remove our shortcomings. Let's dovetail things here and ask him to replace all that garbage with the Seven Gifts. Then we won't have to go through the Steps ever again, much less climb back on the wheel of karma for another go-round.

Mainstream yoga maps the body as a string of seven chakraschakrasor energy vortexes that spin on the axis of the shushumna nadi (spinal column in the physical body)-though some traditions winnow it down to five, and still others balloon out to twelve. The chakras don't line up with the Seven Gifts, though, so don't go wandering down that path. Instead, they govern all aspects of what makes you you, from your basic urge to survive to your loftiest spiritual insights. You need 'em all, and you want them all running smoothly. For a stellar description of how that all works and why it runs amok and what to do when it does, see Anodea Judith's Wheels of Life and/or her Eastern Body,Western Mind.

I can't let a reference to swimming flow by without reminding you that "anu-sara" (as in Anusara yoga) means both "with the essence" and "with the flow." We practice to align with the currents of Grace. A swimmer who steps into a strong current and swims against it will drown. A swimmer who steps into a strong current and does nothing drowns. A swimmer to swims with the current gets to the other side. How about it? Are you still playing salmon forging up the stream of life? Are you a lounge lizard wondering when Grace will descend upon you? Or are you willing to co-create, to build upon the gifts you have already received (including the gift of life) and make something more?

Anusara yoga has seven loops that help us to stand tall. In doing so, they reconnect the front to the back of the body, the little self that moves through the world to the collective that supports it/you/me. We Americans are a forward-looking people, leaning into our bright futures with as much drive as we run from our own pasts. What if there were somethings of true value in what you had already done/learned/felt/seen and heard?

Our bodies are tangible evidence of where we have been and what we've done, for better or for worse. Anusara Yoga is your roadmap back to your inborn health and harmony. Come back to the mat!

Okay, that's nine paragraphs on the seven swans, so time to cut this short!

PS: This is the last of the birds.

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