Autumn has arrived, and with it, I always feel the need to turn within to find balance between the lightness I felt during the warm summer days and the sudden desire to stay cozy and warm inside, as the temperatures cool outside.
Watching leaves float to the ground is a reminder that our lives are a mirror of nature’s cycles and that everything is in a state of impermanence. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that no longer serve us.
Fall is the season of transformation. We can see this all around us in nature: the leaves are falling, the air is changing and we are harvesting an entirely new crop of fruits and vegetables.
It is important that we change with the seasons — just as nature does — by adapting our daily habits, yoga practice and food choices.
Ironically, it is only through change that was can stay grounded during this shifting season.
When life gets busy, it’s easy to get out of balance – emotionally, physically and mentally – from trying to maintain equilibrium between the activities that fulfill us and the demands of life. Very rarely are we able to maintain the ‘great Tree Pose of balance,’ as our lives are in a constant state of change.
At some point in your yoga practice, you’ve probably been asked to set an intention or San Culpa. Setting an intention is a wonderful way to start your practice, your day, or any new beginning, but in doing so it’s always good to step back and ask why you’re doing it. What is intention? What does intention mean to me?
As you grow and deepen your conversation with yoga, it becomes quite clear that the yoga practice must stretch far beyond the boundaries of that little sticky mat. Naturally, your practice begins to bleed into every part of your life, saturating your world with concepts like ahimsa (non-violence). Part of that concept is living in a way that is non-harming to the Earth.
Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to explore this mind-set, as we look for ways to give back to our life-sustaining planet. Every moment we are nourished and blessed by the abundant gifts of the Earth, and on this particular day we have the chance to give gratitude back to the source! This is a special chance to develop lasting rituals in your yoga practice and in your life that nurture an eco-centric approach to everyday living and that have the potential to last all year round.
Many of us long for a life of happiness and peace, but we don’t believe we can have it. The great paradox is that our lack of faith in love and miracles is what blocks us from receiving love and miracles.
If we want to live a miraculous life, we must raise the volume on the loving voice within us and turn down the volume on our fear.
It’s hard to believe that it was only a few weeks ago that we were contemplating the end of the world. Not only did we survive the apocalypse, we survived the holidays!
Now the conversation is all about ‘New Year = New You!’ and making huge life changes now!
I prefer to work with the earth’s gentle cycles as my guide. For me, the winter season is for hibernation and quiet contemplation … a time to go deep ‘inside.’ It is a time for rest (with so many hours of darkness) and for reflection, a perfect time to tap into dreams and journal.
When we attune ourselves with the seasons, we allow our inherent natural rhythms to flow, which are easy to follow and feel good about.
Many Eastern and modern spiritual traditions claim that oneness is the pinnacle of spiritual achievement. In this sense, oneness means to connect to — and ultimately become absorbed into — a great numinous matrix. This can be likened to a drop of water returning to the ocean, as Zen traditions claim.
However, oneness can also be realized as the loss of individuality when memories and experiences become information within the Akashic records. In all of these cases, the individual that once was a human being no longer exists upon the death of the body. The essence of one’s experience and being is simply absorbed into the fold of a higher level of reality, or into a greater whole.
In the classical sense of oneness, each individual is advised to reject or remove the ego. This enables an easier assimilation into the great numinous state of oneness. This results in the loss of who you are, and all that you have gained, as an individual. However, this is not the only option open to us. We can retain our individuality and still become part of a greater whole.
In 2006, Rodney and I had the privilege of taking a few classes with Mr. Iyengar. When it came time for Headstand, I informed the yoga master that I didn’t do them — I have a seizure disorder that I always felt was aggravated by Headstands. He told me, in no uncertain terms, to stand on my head now! And I did. I stayed up, and only came down when he said it was time.
By then, the rest of the class had moved on to Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose), and, trying to be a good student, I came down from Headstand and sat right up to join the rest of the class. That’s the point at which he slapped my back and said, “That is your problem, not Headstand: You transition too quickly and mindlessly. I am sure that you do this in your life as well. You never let anything settle in.” Wow, what an acute teaching for a chronic issue!
It is light in the darkest night. It brings people to their knees. It is symbolic and powerful, yet proof-less and criticized. It illuminates life and it wages war. It escapes some and captivates many. To some it is doctrine, to others it is fiction. It is faith.
Today’s definition of faith doesn’t have to relate to religion; it can be trust or belief in something without proof. But in today’s society, the invisible creates disbelief. People lack faith in all areas of their lives because they are looking for evidence. They are waiting for the ideal job, the perfect relationship and financial abundance. They are looking for something tangible — and as a result, they are still waiting. When the answer doesn’t fall into their laps they become cynical and they lose faith.
If this rings a bell, don’t worry. There are ways to find faith in your daily life.