“A new moon teaches gradualness and deliberation and
how one gives birth to oneself slowly.”
When I was a child, my family moved from the bustling metropolis of Tehran, Iran to the small, quiet town of Cambridge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I didn’t speak English and everything, including the landscape, seemed foreign. Disconnected from life as I knew it, I felt confused and stuck—until I looked up at the night sky and found home again in the moon. It was then that I felt reconnected with my life in Iran, because no matter who or where we are on this earth, we live under the same sky and look up at the same exact waxing or waning moon. This brought me comfort, a homecoming of sorts. And with that, an opportunity to accept what was and begin again in my new life in America.
At times I still feel misaligned and stuck, as if I’m living in a foreign land. I get caught in people-pleasing and judging myself for what I’m doing or not doing. But fortunately, as Sharon Salzberg says, “We can always begin again.” I need external support to remember this simple truth, and I find that support in the moon cycles. The new moon reminds me to begin again by setting intentions that anchor me in practices that cultivate awareness and compassion and help me come home to my true nature. Those practices could be recommitting to my sitting practice, starting each day by placing a hand on my heart and taking three mindful breaths, reading an excerpt every night from a book by a favorite teacher, or listening to a talk every day on Dharma Seed.
Whatever my new moon intention is for a particular month, the waxing moon becomes my visual support for what I am growing, and the full moon is my invitation to pause and take stock of the harvest I have reaped.
Just as we often use the breath as an anchor to come back to the present moment during meditation, the moon has become my anchor to restart or deepen my practice. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m not the first person to think of this. In existence from the Buddha’s time, Uposatha is a day of rest and practicing of the Buddha’s teachings. It is observed about once a week in Theravada countries on the new moon, full moon, and two quarter moons. In some communities, only the new and full moon are observed as Uposatha days. The Buddha taught that the Uposatha day is for “the cleansing of the defiled mind,” resulting in inner calm and joy.
This July 9, 2021 is a new moon. I invite you to set an intention and begin again with me. If you need inspiration, you might find it in my moon tunes Spotify playlist.