If you’ve been practicing yoga, then you’re probably aware of both Suryanamaskar or the sun salutation, and the Chandranamaskar or the moon salutation. Bear with me patiently, for this is not an article about yoga. This article is really about using a powerful framework that exists in nature to help you stay calm and composed at all times. Read this no matter who you are, where you are, what you do or how healthy you feel. Ancient texts firmly believe that your body has both heating and cooling energies, which is what is referred to as Ha and Tha, or Yin and Yang. In fact, I would go so far as to call it right brain and left brain activity, if you want to stay scientific.
The Moon is a powerful vehicle for understanding your mind, and this connection between moon and mind has been a part of many ancient traditions. If you talk to psychologists, they will also be quite clear about the connection between your mind and the moon. But, let’s not go into the depth of symbolism here. Why am I talking about the moon in an article about Functional Nutrition? This morning I was speaking to two dear friends, about premenstrual syndrome, weepiness, anger and related emotions. I wrote a detailed article about PMS here, and how symptoms and root causes can be very different in different people. The real truth is that I struggled with all these symptoms, and unfortunately the people around me struggled too. Struggling with your mood is not an inevitable reality filled with tragic acceptance. Or rather, it should not be.
I am a firm believer in frameworks. Frameworks are basic structures underlying a concept. They provide structure to something and can be powerful tools to simplifying anything. The cycle of the moon, something which does not have a light of it’s own, but shines so beautifully as it reflects, can provide a wonderful framework to calm your mind. This is not witchcraft or voodoo science. This is just about looking at what the moon symbolises and setting yourself a personal framework that allows you to stay calm, focused and balance through the month. So, before we go into how you can use the moon for your benefit, let’s go through what the phases of the moon symbolise.
Phases of the Moon and symbolism
- Cooling down– Just as the Sun connects to fire, energy, heat, vitality and radiance, the Moon symbolises ice, calmness, coolness, balance and inner reflection. If you take the example of the Moon Salutation, it’s meant to be slow, calm, gentle and relaxed, as compared to the sun salutation which is more alive, active, powerful and strong. So the Moon is all about you becoming cooler, calmer, balanced and reflecting on yourself from deep within.
- New Moon– The New Moon has always symbolised new beginnings and fresh starts. It is dark everywhere, but tradition teaches us that the New Moon is all about you beginning something. It is about planting a new seed, not about the plant that will subsequently grow. It symbolises patience and reflection.
- Sliver in the Sky and the Rising Moon– Just as the New Moon starts to reflect light, as that little sliver rises up into the night sky, and in the phase following where the light starts to shine bright on the Moon, revealing growth a little at a time, activity increases. It symbolises action, doing, work and creation, irrespective of any results. It is symbolic of your action, irrespective of any subsequent result.
- Full Moon– The Full Moon is a magical energy! It symbolises the most active phase. It reflects the most amount of light, illuminating everything around. It symbolises embracing the light from what you believe give you light, and enjoying looking at everything upon which the light shines. Since it shines a light on everything around, it symbolises you being under the light, in company and in the presence of those in your life.
- Downward Moon– As the Moon starts descending from the full Moon to the darkness once again, it symbolises you looking at what connotes darkness in your life, what doesn’t work in your life and what you need to let go of.
How can you use the cycle of the Moon as a framework for helping you improve calmness? Well the first thing you have to do is to be aware of when the Moon is rising and when the Moon is descending. This can set a framework for you. How might you use this cycle to support yourself? Here’s where we will go deeper and set some frameworks for you, which you can follow and improve how balanced you are. For after all, improving calmness and resilience in your mind is crucial to your health. Greater resilience to stress is linked to lower levels of inflammation and recovery from disease states. If you were to look at one great place to start to recover yourself, it’s by reducing stress and improving resilience.
Using the phases of the Moon to calm your mind
- New Moon and the Rising Moon Phase– Remember that the new Moon begins with planting a seed. So it’s all about fresh starts and beginning the actual work, without any thought for what happens later. It’s about you enjoying the work that you do, without a thought for what comes after. So stay connected to what you need to begin. Get connected with nature. When you go for a walk in the forest, or do anything which connects you to nature, you stay grounded and rooted. This gives you patience to wait and watch for that seed you planted to grow into a tree. Becoming grounded lowers Cortisol and has a profound impact on lowering stress levels. This is the single most powerful tool to reduce inflammation. This is also a phase of heightened awareness and sensitivity. Avoid blowing up and becoming inflamed! There is a reason that cartoons depict anger as red and inflamed also means red. Anger is deeply linked to inflammation. Getting out in nature, feeling the soft grass under the soles of your feet and even sitting on the floor to eat on meal of the day can make you feel more grounded. The rising moon is a phase where you should be planning your work, organising what you need to do and acting on all of your ideas.
- Full Moon– Remember that the Full moon symbolises light, illumination and all that it lights around you. so it’s a time to get out there, socialise, meet people and connect. It’s the point before the downward phase begins, so it’s also about thinking, setting yourself an intention, and being grateful for what you need to be grateful for. Gratitude has been researched as a powerful tool to reduce brain inflammation. When you truly sit down, and allow the light to illuminate what looks brightest to you and really be grateful for it, it can lower inflammatory cytokines in your body and brain, and cool down your mind in ways you could not even imagine. Most movies about vampires show the full moon. Let’s not get woohoo here, but what this means is that the full moon can shine a light on the energy vampires in your life, showing you the people in your life who drain you, and giving you an opportunity to keep them at a distance. You need your energy to be at it’s most powerful, so it can help you to acheive your life’s work, your life’s passion and your life’s very mission! The full moon is also a time to trust and surrender. Surrendering in a meditation can promote deep healing.
- Descending Moon Phase– If the full moon reveals what you need to release, whether it is people who drain you or work that hasn’t been favorable to you, then the downward moon is all about letting go and release. Just as the moon goes into a shadow phase and darkness comes close, it’s the time to stay away from too much socialising and meeting people, and move more into a phase where you start to introspect, contemplate and connect to yourself. It is the time for you to reflect on what needs to be released, which parts of your life are not working for you anymore and let go with strength, trust and surrender, knowing that releasing these things can make way for new paths ahead. It’s the time to move from action, work and connect, to reflection, meditation and inner connection.
If you feel excited reading this article, and it’s inspired you to look at what each phase means in your life, and if you are interested in going much deeper into the moon cycle and harnessing it for your personal growth, write to me. If you live in Bangalore, and would like to connect to an in person community, show us that you are inspired! I’ll be starting a Goddess Sacred Circle , where we’ll go deep into the moon cycle and really connect in a way where we look deep within ourselves, from the seeds we plant, to what is illuminated for us, what we need to release and how we can do deeper within ourselves!