The Solar Eclipse: Experiencing Totally vs. Totality

If nature is a mirror or teacher, what is tomorrow’s solar eclipse showing or teaching us?

That is the question I built a recent Solar Eclipse Meditation program around. 

Perhaps you already have a sense. Perhaps you haven’t given it a thought. Perhaps you’ll understand when it’s happening. Or perhaps sometime afterwards.

Maybe the eclipse will help you to tap into a sense of awe and wonder.

Or connection with everyone else experiencing the celestial phenomenon at the same time and throughout human history.  

Or the contrast between darkness and light, and the value of both.

Or hope and resilience because the light always returns, even in times of darkness and uncertainty.

Perhaps you’ll gain awareness of what blocks the light – what gets in the way of you receiving the light that is available to you or blocks your access. It might be fear, habits, energy patterns, beliefs, routines/schedule, relationships, codependent patterns, substances, some kind of self-abandonment, etc. 

What blocks you from manifesting what you deeply yearn for? What do you deeply yearn for? How do you want to feel? What does the sun represent, and what blocks its expression or manifestation in your life? 

During a solar eclipse, we wear special glasses that allow us to see what we’re not normally able to see. Perhaps you’ll get some kind of clarity about a situation, person, or topic you’re not seeing clearly, that will propel you to let go or relate to it/them differently. 

There’s also the idea of being in alignment – with your source, what matters most, your deepest wisdom, highest self, etc. You might notice how it feels when where you are standing on planet Earth is in alignment with the moon and sun. Really take in how it feels in those fleeting moments so you can access it again and practice the feeling of alignment. You could even visualize it happening if you aren’t able to experience the actual eclipse visually like that, and feel the sensation of inner alignment.

Eclipse energy can be very intense and chaotic. You may feel extra sensitive to the emotions arising in and/or around you. Perhaps you will resonate with certain practices and/or meditations that ground and calm your own energy despite whatever kind of energy is activated in the environment. 

These were some of the themes I offered. However, another theme arose during the course of the program that wasn’t in my notes: the fear of missing out (FOMO).

I live just outside of the path of totality. So close, and yet so far, given the warnings we’ve heard about traffic gridlocks and such. I’ve heard there’s a big difference between 99% and 100% totality and that many who’ve experienced 100% totality describe it as life-changing. Part of me yearns to experience that “once in a lifetime” event and has been brainstorming ways to get into that narrow path.

However, through mindful awareness, we can recognize that we are caught up in hype and FOMO. And then we can tune in and sense energetically, in our body and being, what feels right regardless of what others are doing or encouraging us to do. We can allow the hype to be just another cloud drifting through the mind that we can let go of.

What if we simply stay where we are? Perhaps we will be more fully present and relaxed, rather than stressed out from dealing with traffic congestion and anxiety about crazy drivers or where to park or pull over, or not arriving at our intended destination in time. Perhaps we can attune more to the energy and subtle changes and experience all of that totally instead of experiencing totality.

What if that is enough?

One participant in the program described experiencing the partial eclipse of 2017 at Cape Cod on a family vacation. The eclipse happened to take place during their vacation. It wasn’t the main event of the day. They didn’t schedule their vacation around it. It was simply part of a wonderful day at the beach. And whatever portion of the sun was blocked that day by the moon was enough. It was exciting – something memorable that you don’t see often. After it was done, her family continued to enjoy their beach day.

I recall working at the Saratoga Springs Public Library that summer day in 2017. We all took turns going up to the roof of the building and looking at the changing shadows on a piece of paper and taking turns looking through the one pair of glasses we passed around. It was really cool to be up on the roof and to experience the changing light and shadows, but what I remember most is the eerie light and the connection I felt with my fellow employees. 

After the solar eclipse program the other day, I stopped brainstorming and decided once and for all that 98-99% totality is good enough. We have a spot close to home in mind in case of clear sky, and an even closer spot if there are clouds, or if we encounter heavy traffic.

An alternative to FOMO – whether related to viewing a rare eclipse or anything else – is JOMO – joy of missing out. If we surrender to conditions being as they are, and to being where we are and as we are, we can discover there is much to notice and appreciate without complicating our lives. We can open ourselves to the path of least resistance instead of the path of totality.

We might take in how the unusual, changing light touches our familiar landscape, or the behavior of animals around us. Or do a guided or unguided meditation to connect with the energy, or enjoy the company of those with whom we’re experiencing the eclipse.

So another eclipse-inspired reflection is: How am I making things more complicated than they need to be? How can I ease into a sense of enoughness and find the path of least resistance? This can be an inquiry you carry with you long after the actual eclipse is over – as any of the inquiries I’ve offered can be.

As a photographer, there’s also the lure to photograph the event, instead of experiencing it fully. This, too, can be a conscious choice. Instead of being on photographer autopilot, we can sense into what feels most right in the moment regarding where and how to put our attention. I’ll be prepared with my gear and research but will sense into what feels most right in the moment and be open to the possibility of not taking any pictures at all. This is another opportunity for FOMO to be a mindfulness bell! Also, the sun isn’t the only subject to focus on. We might take in the unusual light falling on the landscape or the faces of those around us – with or without a camera.

Even the best eclipse plans can be foiled by cloud cover. For the past few days, it was looking like clear, blue sky for Monday afternoon. However, now my weather apps show clouds in the forecast. The weather is out of our control. But however it pans out, we can tune into the potent energy of the celestial alignment and the strange darkness during the day, and reflect on what the eclipse signifies for us. 

Surely, experiencing a total solar eclipse would be magnificent if weather conditions and geography permit. However, there are so many other powerful ways to view it, outside of the path of totality and visual impressions.

© 2024 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and 

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