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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Historically, I have found autumn to be an emotionally difficult time.  With depression as a long-time companion, the waning light, noticeable at the end of July, would create in me a sense of panic.  I would fret and worry about the descending darkness anticipating the release of my mental gremlins that only came out of the corners of my mind when the shadows grew long.  I’ll tell you a little secret, friends, when you walk around like that, with your head up your bum, anticipating nothing but the worst of what’s in store, you get exactly this–darkness and everything looking like shit.

It happened one year, for reasons unknown to me, that I accidentally lifted my chin, looked up at the sky and saw for the first time a whole new world.  The colours were dazzling with trees looking like heavily plumed Las Vegas showgirls.  It was as if Mother Earth had been standing in front of me year after year with her best negligee on, begging me to recognize her, and I was too busy with the lint in my belly button to notice her alluring display.  That year I finally began to take it all in.

I am now thoroughly mesmerized by this season.  The colours, yes, are magnificent but so is the sky.  With the dome of the Earth pulled further away the clouds have more chance to play and change their disguises from menacing, grim grey-black shrouds to eye-shocking splashes and swirls of bright pink, orange and heron blue; god is definitely an artist!  Mother Earth pushes forth her last hurrah of bounty as the remains of the harvest are collected.  The hellish heat and humidity of the summer has given way to fresh, crisp air that allows us to walk outside without suffering and, in the good old Canadian tradition, it makes for “good sleepin’ weather”.

Fall is a chance to begin to relax, to take a deep breath and stop the frenetic activity of spring and summer.  Our shoulders can come down a bit as we notice that, perhaps, we have just a little bit more time to do the things we’ve missed doing.  This is our time, energetically, to process and assimilate all that has gone on during the previous months when activity was so overwhelming that everything rushed past in a blur.  This is the time when the pulse slows and the vision clears and we just rest.  The planning time for the future will come; this is the grace period Nature provides for us before that empty canvas of the future is pulled from the closet waiting to be filled.  Autumn is the pause between the exhale and the next inhale.

I am no longer in the depressive slumber that used to haunt me at this time of year.  I notice and marvel at the razzle dazzle that sparkles before my eyes.  I also feel a deep sympathy for Mother Earth who has worked so very hard to support us during the growing season.  I’m at a point where I cannot in good conscience ask her to stick around, to continue living in a frenzy without rest, when I recognize my own need to slow down during the dark months.  I understand, finally, that Nature is not abandoning me, she is just taking a much needed and well deserved break.  And if I’m lucky enough I will still be alive to walk with her during all her phases, from deep, buried slumber and back to wake again.  This wheel of life truly is magic!

In honour of the Great Mother and all that I love about this world and this season, a wee poem:

Life Cycles

Shivering Earth Mother,

pull closer your coat of withered leaves

and brown wet grass.

 

Cold wind-tickled toes

Autumn sun-kissed face

drop deeply to slumber

and rest well.

 

From your shrouded stillness

 

echo

 

shadowbelly rumblings

dark mystery murmurings

Earth-womb whisperings

 

hope

 

for seasons yet to come.

 

–Tabitha Kot

 

What shrouds have pulled from your eyes recently?  What can you see that you’ve never seen before?  What bounty comes from your own personal harvest?

Wrap up, stay warm, find comfort, and may the spark of this season’s magic enter your eyes to fill your soul.

 

All my love,

Tabitha

 

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How often do we waste our words, throwing them to the air for absolutely no reason?  This is a question that floated to me on the wind as I sat in silence by the lake.  It’s become a ritual now:  once a week I fall into silence for the better part of the morning, I walk to the lake at the end of the road and I simply observe everything in between.

It’s astounding what I’ve seen:  a beautiful brown hare sitting in the grass soaking up sunshine; a toad that led me to a patch of wild strawberries growing towards the lakeside rocks; the mating ritual of 20 swans; a skunk lumbering past, only feet away from me; a woodpecker feeding its young who sat protected in a hole pecked into a dead tree.

When I fall silent and choose not to use my voice I become part of a larger conversation, yet all around me are people charging the walking paths like they’re going to conquer new lands.  Friends storm the trails together in the name of “health”, nattering on, seemingly unable to spend time together without using their voices.  How much larger does the conversation become between people when the physical voice gets shut down?  How much more deeply can we connect with ourselves and with all that surrounds us when we fall into rich, deep silence?

My memory takes me back to the silent retreat of a couple weeks ago.  No voices and still there was conversation.  What I noticed was how the quality of the interactions between people changed as soon as the voice was taken out of the picture.  Things became softer.  It was impossible to hail for someone’s attention so other tools were employed: touch, eye contact and facial expressions, for example.  People approached one another quietly, not wanting to frighten them.  Touch was patient and kind with people moving slowly to make contact.  Arms and hands did not abruptly shoot out towards another; instead, the movement became more of a glide with hands lighting softly on another’s skin.  People looked deeply into each other’s eyes and many times this exchange included a smile.  Beautiful.

How different is this from what I observe on the park paths?  There is no contact between people as they walk side by each, no eye contact, no physical contact, just the voice uttering stories, words falling into the air about things not present in that moment.  Stories taking up space between people so the magic all around them, the larger picture of which they are a part, gets missed.  Stories, thought to bridge gaps, in this case, creating distance between people. Would the park experience be richer if two friends travelled there in silence with no voices to shield them, just the soft, tender, openness of humanity?

This week’s silence challenge is this:  Can you take some time, 5 minutes, even just a moment, to connect with someone in a silent way?  Do you dare walk together and spend time together without having to speak?  Can you allow yourself to reach out gently to touch that person in order to capture her attention?  Can you look into her eyes to see the response?  Do you dare be soft, tender and human with another? 

If you do dare, please, let me know how it goes.  🙂

Many blessings for your journey,

Tabitha

xoxoxo

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I have often thought a garden reflects the keeper’s state of mind.  I imagine that an overgrown, stressed-looking garden is kept by someone who has very little space in her life, or who is not coping well with the circumstances she faces.  A professionally tended, manicured, “perfect” garden belongs to an uptight, image-oriented man, or perhaps to someone who is prone to handing off responsibility for his life to someone else.

Recently I stepped out into my yard and could almost hear my heart break.  In the middle of May, autumn leaves still lay on the surface of many of the garden beds.  Weeds were throwing a party in there.  Grass had swarmed the edges so I wasn’t really sure where the lawn ended and the gardens began.  Every angle of this picture told the story of a woman who has been too long away from her land, too involved in other things, and not grounded in her work. It has been a tough year establishing my yoga business and working to understand who I am and how I operate within this business world.  Like the dense, compacted soil beneath my feet, my spirit has hardened making it difficult for new and beautiful things to grow.

This past weekend I waded through the piles of things stored for winter in the back of the garage, pulled out my favourite garden tools, and made my way to the patch underneath the now massive honey locust tree in the centre of the backyard.  I began digging and fluffing the earth, and pulling at the weeds, looking for signs of health and life within the soil.  With the sound of birds laughing overhead, I surged with joy at the sight of a fat earthworm; there was hope for this garden.  Did the same hold true for my heart?

As I continued tending to the patch of earth, my mind wandered and I began to realize how very much gardening is like meditation.  When I garden, I pull weeds and nourish the soil so that the new and beautiful life growing there has a chance to flourish.  I edge the beds drawing clear boundaries between what I want to happen in that space and what I don’t, and I move things around so they make better sense.  I notice the plants that have encroached on my garden from other yards and I decide which I will adopt and allow to remain, and of which I will dispose.  I create space for beauty to flood in.

The same holds true when I come to my meditation practice.  How long I’ve been away will tell me how many weed-thoughts are likely to have encroached on my mind.  Breathing in and out, I begin plucking at the thoughts that have overwhelmed my personal space, choking out any real possibility for clarity and evolution.  Like my garden’s plant invaders from other environments, I notice thoughts in my psyche that are not mine, seeds that have been planted by outside forces like family, friends, work connections and the culture-at -large, and that have taken root in my mind.  Which do I allow to stay and which do I remove?  In what way shall I edge and boundary the beds of my mind?  The choice is entirely mine.

By coming to my practice over and over again I become the gardener of my existence, creating an environment that allows the winds of enlightenment to blow through, and the colours of creation to light up the sky of my mind.  Gently inhaling and exhaling, I nudge out the dense thoughts that keep me downtrodden like cold, unmanaged soil; it is so much easier to do when the weed-thoughts are still small and less established.

The soil beneath the tree in my yard now looks fresh and fluffy, tender loving care having prepared it to properly sustain new life.  The boundaries around what stays and what goes are a bit more defined.  Bright pink and white flowers planted in the openings add colour and zing to the previously drab, sad space.  The splash of colour beneath the tree has painted a streak upon my soul.  Stepping forward into my life, I bring breath and awareness, the “earthworms” that signal a renewal and regeneration of the tender earth that binds me.   With a lightness of being, my laughter meets that of the birds and, together, we float through the sky–free.  The garden has shown me there is indeed hope for my heart as well.

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