I’ve recently started a ‘Seasonal Yoga Teacher Training’ course. My reasons for joining this course were somewhat selfish (ok, purely selfish): as you may have gathered, I’ve quite enjoyed going to my yoga classes and was doing this twice a week. For some time, I had thought starting a home practice might be a good thing, but I found I wasn’t necessarily motivated to do this just because I thought I might like to. So, in talking to others last year who were taking the seasonal yoga teacher training course at that time, I learned that they were “required” to do a home practice as part of the training. This, I thought to myself, could be just the motivation I need. So here I am, 3 months and 4 modules later, one-third of the way through the 200-hour course.
I am loving the course, but I’m not going to write about that today. Instead I’m going to write about a couple of things on my mind, one highly influenced by this course and one not necessarily overtly linked, but, well, wait for it…. I’m pretty sure it’s not escaped you that things in the world feel a bit ‘fraught’ these days – just turn on the news (whichever channel you’re partial too), and you’ll hear terrible stories of what’s happening all over the world and in your backyard. No matter who you support or who you don’t support, you’ll also see and hear plenty of blaming, finger-pointing and just general hate and unkindness. And that feels very, very heavy, so much so that if you’re like me, you might have an instinct to escape or ignore. But it's always there and it feels wrong to ignore all the pain.
And then there is autumn, which has come relatively recently, as it does each year at this time. Seasons, for obvious reasons, are something that I’m highly aware of and have been since summer turned into late summer in August and late summer turned into autumn a couple of weeks back. In studying seasons, at least insofar as they relate to yoga practice and traditional Chinese medicine (which is what Seasonal Yoga is – a combination of these two things) – it was hard not to notice the earth changing. Beyond becoming aware of specific dates of seasonal change and going to seasonal flow yoga classes where the changing of seasons is discussed in terms of changing yoga postures, I’ve recently felt like my senses were more open to what was happening outside around me. The changing colour of the leaves, the chill in the air, the carpet of apples covering my back garden and my craving for particular foods. These were all signs. And they were beautiful signs, actually. Autumn colours are just lovely.
In noticing these changes, and being acutely aware of what is happening in the world, I’ve had that Byrds song, “Turn, Turn, Turn” playing on repeat in my head for a couple of weeks now. It feels highly relevant, in so many ways. “There is a season – turn, turn, turn….” It’s not only seasons that come and go; animals behave differently at different times of year, the ocean tides flow in particular ways at various times of the day; light comes and goes; societies are dynamic and fluctuating; clocks go round and round; each day we go through our own individual cycles. “There is a season – turn, turn, turn…” Autumn, according to what I’m learning on my course, is a time for gathering inward and condensing. It’s a time to prepare to let go, to refine, to re-evaluate. It’s a time, as the nights draw in, to look back over what we’ve done in the more energetic months and to develop our determination and strength for what will come.
And so here I find myself, ready for autumn; ready to go inward, to slow down, to reflect. And, for the first time in many years, I understand this to be a dynamic process (turn, turn, turn…). In the past, it’s been easy for me to get stuck – to attach to what is happening in the here and now or what might be happening in the future. It could be my age, maturity (don’t laugh!), mindfulness or yoga – or it could be none of those things – but this time, at this moment, I’m ok with what is here and what will come. Ok, maybe not necessarily when it comes to the outside world and all that heaviness that for me is “news” and for others is “life”. Frankly, thinking too far forward about the issues we are facing on a global scale and the people supposedly leading us there scares the bejeezus out of me! But here, in my own little life and in my own little bubble, I’m happy enough to watch what happens as the days come and go, as the seasons come and go as the world goes on turning. And I’m happy for it to be dynamic – good and bad; happy and sad; exciting and terrifying and everything else in between. At least for today. I might not feel the same tomorrow, and that’s ok. But for now, like the colours of autumn, I can let life be beautiful and dynamic. All of it. Difficult at times, for sure, but there is always something beautiful to be noticed, even in the tragedy. So that will be my pledge as I wander through this autumn on my way to winter. “Find the beauty.” In nature, in my day, in others, in myself. And if I can’t find it today, I will try again tomorrow, because I believe it is there for the finding. Perhaps you’d like to join me?