This year I experienced three Springs. One in Ireland, one in New York and one in Canada. Three seasons of unfolding – of rising up and out – of newness being created. Two things struck me most this year as I witnessed the season with more care than I have before. First, just how much change there was day-to-day (and how much of that change occurred in such a short period of time). Second, just how much “stuff” falls in the spring. The pollen, seeds, buds, all those cocoons of potency falling to the ground or floating through the air.
It isn’t newness entirely, the Spring. It’s another cycle that creation moves through. Many plants and trees knowing this pattern and executing seemingly without thought and with purpose. The earth and elements supporting or destroying in their own collective right.
I’ve never missed seeing the Spring. I’ve noticed it in passing. I’m not sure when I last experienced the Spring, however. This time I had the space to sit with the season. To witness it on repeat in different lands. The “same” things happening with nuanced differences. The whole process much larger than I could ever comprehend; a great unfolding and unfurling.
As I notice my relationship to many Springs this year it occurs to me that I’m also in that season of my life.
I have been in a very long cycle of death. A Winter of sorts. It has been very deep and long – decades at least, more likely lifetimes and most certainly repeated over generations of ancestry. Every time I thought the Winter might be over for me, it wasn’t – not fully. The cycle needed to play out. It needed me to turn deeply inward and rest. I needed to learn how to grieve fully and release. I needed the tools to allow myself to turn inward and simply “be”. To be with what is, even if it’s death. To be with myself and to find comfort in that season of death instead of trying to flee from it or ignore it. To learn how to take the restless energy that grew up around and through and in the grief. The feelings of hopelessness mixed with depression and anxiety that took root and to allow that to all have space.
Part of the process too was to be in that death cycle and plant new seeds in the compost of what was being transformed. To both allow the state of death to be there and surrender to it while not being swept away by its strong pull. To learn that it wasn’t all that there was to life. To understand that there’s always a brightness even in that murkiness. To appreciate the murk for what it is. To appreciate death for what it is.
The keys for me were to feel what I was feeling without a “right” way to feel (as one of my dear teachers always says) and to learn how to plant seeds, no matter how small or weak at first, of possibility. Hope. Newness.
I’ve been reminded lately that in the practice of yoga and from a neuroscience perspective, we can allow the old patterns and thoughts to be there and simultaneously plant new ones. As energy feeds energy, eventually those new seeds will start to grow. The new patterns develop in the brain, body, energy, fueled by the spirit. They may need constant reinforcement and practice (or not) and, in time, the old parts do let go and there is a death at the same time there is a birth. They aren’t in opposition to one another, birth and death. They’re cycles working with a third, sustaining force. There isn’t an either/or it’s more of an and/and with many aspects taking place at the same time.
I’m starting to understand that the seasons aren’t polarities, they each support one another, interweave, and exist in union. Multiple Springs can also occur simultaneously. In dropping the seeds that are going to cultivate through Summer, take root again through the coming Fall and be dormant or incubate through Winter. We do this too and it’s even more potent when we can work together with the cycles around us. The cycle of death and rebirth that happens along with the moon each month. The cycle that happens each day with the sun rising and falling. Each hour and minute. There are endless opportunities to shift energy while also allowing the current state to run its course and to be supported in that place.
I’m noticing this more as I move and change where I’m living every few days. In giving up a permanent address, I have the opportunity to notice even more closely what happens to my patterns. I’ve lived in six places over the past two weeks and love it. With each place I feel at home in about three seconds. I feel welcomed as though I’ve always lived there. I notice that the hardest part for me is to leave the previous company or the place because I immediately feel at home and love where I am. Only to realize the next place brings exactly the same feelings though the surroundings and company are different. It doesn’t mean one is more or less, just that I can find my feet and way each time again and again with nuanced differences.
New patterns form so easily.
One new pattern is that I find myself going to a yoga class every day at 12:30 this week, just because I currently live so close a yoga studio. I usually practice at home and go to class a couple of times a week. In this new pattern I’m going to classes I’ve never gone to, meeting people I’ve never met and, I’ve done something I’ve never done before in each class. At least one new thing.
The first day I heard myself say, “I could never do that” when the teacher showed us balancing and twisting and holding our leg out straight…. And then I tried and I could do it. Rather easily.
Another new seed floating down and planting. Shifting the energy of “I can’t” a little bit further. Noticing the old thought and belief as it floated up, then trying, and learning that it wasn’t true. I can do it. That new energy created in that moment could (and will) apply to so many other things. A new seed planted, cultivated and created to grow even more.
About a month ago I noticed a shift in my physical practice. I realized that when I stepped my foot forward into a lunge from a downward-facing-dog, I was moving my shoulder out of the way. This led to harming my shoulders and separating them too much through the back body. I’m not sure if I’ve always done this or if it was a new pattern. Either way, I noticed it now so when it developed was irrelevant. Once I became aware of it, I wanted to work with it. I started to focus on the health of my shoulders as I moved, paying close attention. I noticed that when I did that – when I worked with my shoulders differently, my foot didn’t come up to where it used to (the mat long worn out in grooves where my feet and hands have always landed).
I noticed myself realizing I wasn’t going “as far” as before, stepping a full footstep back from where I used to land. I noticed myself criticizing that I didn’t take care of my shoulders and trying to search for the times in the past when I could have done it differently. I noticed myself wanting to get that foot to where it used to be and at the same time allowing myself to not. To consciously find a new footing. I noticed the movement I was making and the strength I needed to develop to move differently. How to use my body differently than I have before to move in a way that I could protect my shoulders. I let myself notice the noticing of criticism and every time let myself choose to greet the thoughts with gentleness and kindness. I met myself with words that it was okay and now I could choose differently. Now that I was aware. I couldn’t have changed anything before – without the awareness. Now I could. That became my practice. It took a lot of focus and effort and then…. It all shifted. My stance physically shorter, my shoulders happier and healthier, my thoughts supportive and loving.
The new seeds planted and sustained.
All from noticing and making a minor shift from where I used to be to where I am now. To noticing what was no longer serving me and allowing something new to form.
As I move into this Spring cycle of my life I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to float from place to place. Like a dandelion seed, floating along, taking root, finding growth, then moving on again. Not sure of where I’ll land and replanting only to shift again. To embrace the patterns that keep me moving and keep me cycling through while also at the same time embracing that they shift and change. I’m loving the newness of creating each day and finding new ways to be, without attachment to what is or will come next (or what has already been).
At the same time as I love the newness and the growth taking place, I’m also aware to not become attached or addicted to only seeking newness (while also not limiting how much I love it and enjoy it!). Tricky. How to celebrate and fully enjoy and be immersed without limiting that joy and not let expectations to form. Or, as they do, to watch how they also dissolve and become replaced with new patterns again. I’m learning to not avoid the season of death or fear returning to its depth. I understand it well now and know it can’t keep me contained and I can’t avoid it. Nor do I have to stay living within that death cycle, as I have chosen to do before.
It’s time for me to move more fully into the Spring of my existence.
For everything does have a season and just as much falls away in the Spring as it does in Autumn. Just as much is planted and grows in the Summer as it is in the Winter. Honouring the energy and power of each season and the dominant cycles of birth, sustenance and death that are within and now I can see a constant weaving between them without absolutes or one winning out over the rest. Quietly knowing they each have an equal role and importance. These cycles and patterns are here to sustain us and they work together as a whole.
So the practice for me becomes being able to be where I am, allow growth to take place, enjoy and immerse myself in the newness and transformation without expectation that anything will continue to be the same or experiencing the emotions that come when I want something to stay the same. Noticing the constant birthing and dying and finding what sustains me through it all. Finding what serves me fully in each moment.