• Derek Sean Vaughn

Walking With Ghosts

As the lunar cycle dwindles down, so do we. It’s natural to find ourselves feeling sad, emotional, and having to say goodbye. “If only”s tend to haunt us like ghosts. Memories of what could have been and should have been linger, whispering in our ears. These thoughts and memories often begin to take on a certain ….charge. Like ghosts, their legacies hover above us and move through us. Like ghosts, these thoughts and memories influence our actions and outcomes with their invisible moving hands. Sometimes they have us think we know better and play tricks on us. It’s only then in the witching hours of the moon, that we are given the clarity to understand the cloudy, inexact, emotional leftovers from past experiences, to find the formlessness masking in form.

Me, the Moon, and I

I have a special relationship with the moon. As dark as life might seem, the brighter the night sky often appeared. For as long as I can remember, I could always look up, squint my eyes, and find a friend. As a child, the Moon spoke to me through silliness and trickery. I remember long car rides home, looking out the window feeling the moon follow me. Like a game of hide and seek, the moon would veer off winking from a distance when I caught on. As a child the moon spoke to me in games and laughter, ebbing and flowing, playing with its location through space and place. Sometimes the moon even shaped itself to look like a cookie, playfully laughing at me when I realized I couldn’t actually bite it!

Like the moon, our goals, trajectories, and even our relationships have cycles. A powerful relationship might blossom at the rise of the full moon, only to disappear as it begins to wane. Being ghosted isn’t easy. In fact, it’s heartbreaking, making us feel discarded. Yet, as yogis we often repress our grief, disappointment, and abandonment to be “good” and committed spiritual practitioners. There’s a time to detach and there’s a time to lean in and interpret these internal whispers. These unresolved issues don’t just disappear because we want them to. Instead, they imprint stress and tension within our muscles and minds. In a culture that socializes us to repress, can you imagine the citadel of ghosts you’ve now created and housed in your subconscious? Plenty. We are taught to quiet the mind instead of seeking resolve. This is a valid tool, but can’t be the only one in our arsenal. Instead, just for now, I invite you to listen and talk back. You might be surprised with what you find.

The Witching Hour

As an adult the moon speaks to me less in games, and more in poetry and wisdom. As a spiritual practitioner, I know the consequences of being out of sync with the natural world. I now use the moon to connect to the natural cycles around me and the mental and emotional cycles within me, shining light on the “invisible hands” at play. Being who I am, I used the full moon as an opportunity to connect with guidance and “draw down the moon.” Nothing extraordinary happened, of course. I honestly didn’t expect it to. I went to sleep, trusting that my efforts would eventually pay off. After an hour or so, my body felt light and I dropped into one of the most vivid dream sequences I have ever had.

The In Between State

I found myself back in my childhood apartment. The room was full of faces, some I remember some I don’t. Some friendly and some mocking. I saw my fluffy black and white pomeranian Bella, and called her over. Instead, I was greeted by a small, purely black pomeranian. I was met with my childhood dog, Shadow. I picked him up and embraced him, crying when I realized that I had forgotten all about him. I could feel his soft, yet frizzy fur brush up against me. I could see his little white beard that made him look debonair. I could even smell him and feel his breathing against mine, as I held him in my arms. Just as I began to embrace him again, his pupils started to dilate and his tiny ten pound body began to shake until he became formless. His color and texture slowly faded with each wave of convulsions until my arms were once again empty. And in that moment I got to say goodbye to my childhood dog, for the very first time.

Call to Action:

I am not suggesting that we must participate in “spiritual gymnastics”, or try to reconvene with the departed. What I am saying is that non attachment isn’t the only tool in our toolbox. In my dream, I thanked Shadow for teaching me how to love with all of my heart. I also let go of a guilt that was never mine to bare. The point is, that each and every one of us has unresolved issues and unexplored shadows. Sometimes we need to do the “shadow work” to shed light and exorcise the invisible hands at play. This work doesn’t have to be forced, but rather welcomed when your heart gets heavy and your energy begins to dwindle.

This kind of excavation of the self doesn’t always have to be so dramatic either. Consider the ways yoga, meditation, journaling, and other spiritual practices can shed light on old pains and memories. What it requires though is being in “the in between place”, a place of now, then, and when. It requires that we get out of our compulsive thinking and into the core of ourselves.

Finding Form:

I could see my body on my couch before I dropped back in. I then woke up, only to still be asleep. My body remained still, and yet I could sense an inner body slowly oscillating back and forth, buzzing, and energetically effervescing until my form and formlessness, body and mind, coalesced. The phrase, “the in between state” shot from one ear to the other piercing through my consciousness. I wiggled my fingers and toes, rubbed my eyes open, and got up from the couch. “Must be the moon”, I accidentally vocalized right before I was hit with an inkling of doubt. I turned over to the front of my room and faced the 5 piece phases of the moon mirror set I have on my wall. The full moon moon piece dropped an inch down and moved to the right, towards me. Must be the moon indeed....

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