One of the participants in one of my yoga classes wrote this essay several years ago..I found it timely as we move through winter..This was previously published in the January/February edition of Branches.
by Clare Seffrin Bond
For as long as I can recall I have disliked fall. I was all about springtime. I craved the increasing sunlight, the feel of warmer temperatures and the scent of budding plants and flowers. Fall portended winter. Fall and winter were to the seasons as evening and nightfall were to a day’s cycle – a winding down period of quiet and darkness. Not my cup of tea.
Recently, though, I started spending more time in the practice of yoga. It is something I bave enjoyed sporadically over time, but until recently l had not committed to making it a daily habit. From the start of my new regimen I noted that I felt great post-yoga. After a few weeks l began to recognize that the quiet and stillness of yoga were improving my overall well·being. It became evident to me that nonstop light, noise and activity were contraindicated to overall balance Just as a constant diet of sugar would be to balanced nutrition.
That recognition led to more contemplation about the patterns of life and the preferences that are sometimes inherent in us. I started to look at the shortened days and dying foliage in a new light. Rather than considering fall and winter as a sad and gloomy end to the exuberance of spring and summer, I began to understand the “dormant” times for what they really are, a respite for the earth. After the frenetic pace of spring blooming and the intense energy expenditure of summer heat, a quiet time is required for renewal. I now see the seasonal periods of dark and quiet as beneficial to the earth, just as my yoga practice is to my body and soul. The resulting renewal comes from turning inward to slough off what is spent and to build future resources.
Perhaps, for me at least, a certain degree of maturation is required to truly appreciate the essence of the natural rhythms of life, rhythms that are evident in the cycle of a day, a season, a relationship oc a lifetime. As I evaluate different segments of my life, I can see the pattern is ubiquitous. It’s all about highs and lows, and, of course, the spaces in between too. Whether from the gloriously euphoric days of new love to the languid comfort of a time-tested commitment, or from the hyperkinetic state of an excited toddler to the blissful nighttime slumber of that same child, every living thing, no matter how dynamic, must rest to survive.
As we move through our days and weeks and months, emptying our heads and hearts at school, at work and at home, we must also be sure to take time to replenish our minds and our spirits. And so must our Earth. Otherwise, surely desolation would result. Nurturing what is beneath the surface and can’t yet be seen is a requisite prelude to the eventual debut of new creation.
When I spend time in quiet reflection, shedding the stresses and tension that I have accumulated throughout my active day, new insights and enthusiasms begin to bud. I emerge from the meditation enriched and renewed from the inside out. Fall and winter allow for that same process on a grand scale. A time to breathe in and breathe out, slowing down to relish the magnitude of what it means to be.
So now when I shuffle through the leaves that litter the sidewalk outside my office, or lurch along through mounds of snow, instead of interpreting the leaves and snow as signs of demise, I recognize them for what they really are: evidence of the remarkable renewal taking place just below the surface.