Ahoy, dear ones!
We have been iced-in for two days here in my home of Portland, Oregon, which seems like a prompt from Ma Nature to check-in around our seasonal practice.
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The seasonal check-in is (for me) at least a two-part process: first, I reflect on the previous season; second, I look forward to the incoming one.
Past seasonal podcasts:
In Ayurveda, there is a principle that says that if we live one season to the fullest, the next one will naturally beckon us. I know this to be true in my own body. I know, too, that when things are left undone, unresolved, unprocessed, they linger. They keep me from the present. This, of course, is also the basis of Yoga philosophy: our samskaras (patterns) keep us in a holding pattern of reliving loops and grooves, partially or completely blind to our true nature (the kleshas) and basically at least one-step removed from the present moment (citta vritti). The processing may seem arduous, meaningless until we actually experience its potential to lay out our samskaras before us, offering us a choice as to whether and how to buff them to subtler and subtler states.
I suppose this might sound like rarified work for elitist naval-gazers, but as we’ve discussed many times in the past, the work is necessary in order to really do the big work. And it is not separate from the big work once we sink in-to it.
That said, I also acknowledge that my own repertoire of self-care systems and strategies may sound quite alien or complicated. They aren’t to me, of course; otherwise (and believe me, omg) I would never do them. The only things that actually work are the things we actually do, so begin where you are. My practices reflect two decades of experimentation with yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. The practices all come back to the simple strategy of asking what we’re doing and what the effects are. For example, I drink a cup of tea, I feel a certain way. The effects occur immediately as well as in the medium-term and in the long-term. I can start to notice these effects, and ask whether they are in alignment how I want to be feeling or how I hope to be living; using that information, I can decide whether to keep, modify or completely ditch a habit. (That’s a discussion for a different day, but I whole-heartedly recommend a couple of books on point below.*)
So, on with the show.
I’m super-transparent about my challenges with autumn. It’s the season of wind, dryness and big temperature drops. It’s the season of hyper-action and frenzied preparation for winter. In the past, it has been a time of high anxiety, exhaustion and fatigue for me.
My strategies for autumn *really* worked this year. Daily body oiling, oil pulling, foot care, the 10-minute power bath, NATURE therapy, warm foods, slow (but moderately strenuous) exercise– they all worked. I feel good moving into winter. Yes. As did remembering to look to nature & remember I’m a part of it. The squirrels and I scurried together. We are sisters. This helped.
What challenges revealed themselves?
Additional challenges this year of course accompanied the election. There were a few weeks where I felt like I couldn’t relax at all because *I NEEDED TO DO ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW*. Well, I figured out my own flow for activism and although I still feel worked up about the world, at least my nervous system is in a state where I can actually do the things that I can do to be useful. Whoosh.
Winter is the time of Kapha, or earth & water. The qualities at play here are density, moisture, cold. Personally, I don’t feel these particular elements in my own body in this particular climate until the middle of January usually, and until that time the dryness and mobility of Vata are still the most prevalent qualities. My personal plan is to stick with my current system until the new year, then to shift a touch to account for the potential of sluggishness. That said, winter is the time to rest and recharge and renew; otherwise, I won’t be pulled into spring like a little chicken.
Energetically, although I know the rest, the darkness, the quiet are necessary, I can feel a little anxiety when I subtract too many things. I’ll be working in that space this winter (for a short bit, at least), and I’m excited to share what I find while I’m in there.
My current challenges are SUPER-DRY SKIN (omg) and a unquenchable thirst to be in nature. (If it were practicable, I would love to camp for Winter Solstice.) I’m still locating my daily flow now that our Yoga Sutras Immersion has ended and I’ve eliminated a few more drop-in classes from my schedule.
How I’ll care for myself this winter:
- Regular daily rhythms: body oiling with sesame oil, oil pulling, foot massaging, barefoot time outdoors.
- Eating warm foods and foods that stoke digestion.
- Kitchen magic: spending a lot of time in the kitchen this time of year feels correct.
- Getting outside A LOT. Moving and breathing outside is good.
- Staying off Facebook. (I’ll do a whole podcast on this, but deleting my personal profile has had significant positive impacts on my overall well-being. It’s a decision I am very happy with.)
My practice goals for winter:
- I’ve already begun this, but after 6 seasons of being very much outward with my energy flow, I need to turn inward more. For real. Both in practice and in work. I’ve cut back on teaching and added a few more strategic gatekeepers to my daily flow to ensure maximum time spent in the depths of practice and work.
- I have three books that are complete and ready to be released to the world, and they require concentration and attention to move into their next phase.
- Practically speaking, I’d like to figure out a way to do my movement practice early in the morning. Presently, I meditate early, but I do my asana practice later on when the rest of my house is already awake, since they seem to sense the unrolling of my mat or the shifting into a posture and wake up anyway. We’ll see how this plays out.
- I’m writing more and want to keep that up.
- I’m painting a little more and want to add more to that.
How about you? I’m curious about what is pulling you closer or pushing you away? What would you like more of in life and practice? What’s working? What’s not working?
Keep in touch. Stay close. I love you, and I love hearing from you.
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