I was in Miami in February for a few days. While on the beach, I couldn’t help notice seagulls standing on the beach, collectively changing direction throughout the afternoon. At about noon they would all be facing the ocean. An hour or so later, they all seemed to have collectively turned, now facing a bit more west. An hour later again, they all shifted position still further west. By 4:30 – 5pm, they were all facing fully to the west, now with their backs to the ocean.
At first it seemed as if they were following the movement of the sun from east to west (like the sunbathers on the beach). But it turns out that as most birds, seagulls position themselves to be in direction with the wind, so as not to be thrown off by the wind. It is said that when standing in direction with the wind, their stance is more stabilized than it would be if they were standing against the wind. Facing in this direction also gives seagulls more momentum to take flight.
For some reason I was so taken by observing their resolve day after day on the beach, continuously repositioning themselves with the wind, to stay more stabilized while standing. That purposefulness, desire for stability, was like a compass that guided their movement throughout the day.
It reminded me of how we as Yogis, calibrate ourselves during our practice to align ourselves with the winds of our breath; how movements are facilitated & enhanced when aligned appropriately with an inhale or an exhale. In moments when we feel ourselves being thrown off by the destabilizing nature of our thoughts, aligning ourselves in the direction of our breath, the life force, that which is larger than us, anchors us.
Ref.: Hatha Yoga Pradipika Chapter 2, Verse 2
“When prana [life force/breath] moves, chitta (the mental force) moves. When prana is without movement, chitta is without movement. By this (steadiness of prana), the yogi attains steadiness……” Translation by Swami Muktibodhananda – Bihar School of Yoga
And then –
Wake Owl – Madness of Others
I put it to the wind
Otherwise it drives me mad
The way we get so safe but wanna be bad
I wonder if it’s strange
Think of where we’ll be
When the world begins to feel itself so free
I wanna find myself so free