An Urge Toward Cosmic Confidence


Nest photo by David Ondrik

“And so when we examine a nest, we place ourselves at the origin of confidence, an urge toward cosmic confidence. Would a bird build its nest if it did not have its instinct for confidence in the world?” Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, p. 103

The Lunar New Year begins on February 12. I love the lunar new year — the Chinese New Year — partly because the calendar date shifts (it happens on the new moon that appears between January 21 and February 20), which means I have to pay attention. I also appreciate that the wintry days are growing noticeably longer. For me, there’s a definite shift in my physical and emotional energy.

This lunar new year has me thinking of philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s observation that a bird’s nest is “an urge toward cosmic confidence,” a notion that I find … encouraging, as we move deeper into 2021. Bachelard’s 1958 classic, The Poetics of Space (I have a 1994 edition) is dense with this kind of hopeful bravado, marveling at the natural world, including humankind and the magic of the spaces we build, inhabit, experience, and dream of. Every sentence in the book is a meditation; open it up to a random page, read a sentence or two, and you’ll have enough to chew on for weeks.

This past autumn, I invested in an online meditation class, with a teacher I had attended a one-day retreat with, many years ago. I’d always been curious about her eight-week MBSR course, but I never felt like I had the time… and then I moved far away … then farther away … and then 10 years later (no kidding), it is Covid-time and I DO actually have space in my life for a class. And because of the pandemic, the  class is on zoom, and I’d be taking it online whether I was right next door or halfway across the country. So: it was time.

The class was great — I recommend it! One of the greatest benefits I noticed from meditating daily, was realizing just how much of a meditation practice my Reiki practice is. I’d suspected this, because the benefits I get from Reiki — feeling more at ease, less buffeted by the ups and downs of daily life, a general contentedness — are what I’d always imagined I might gain in a consistent meditation practice. But Reiki feels softer than a sitting practice. Or, maybe I let Reiki feel softer. There is something about the weight of my hands, resting on my body, that grounds me. In that connection between my hands and my body, whatever it is that is happening in Reiki, my mind is able to let go, to dwell in a space where breath, body, and the present moment are all that is. In the soft, daily discipline of Reiki practice, I return to my cosmic confidence — a 24-hour cycle that I can choose to subscribe to, as reliable as the moon.