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When Nature Gets Too Real

We’ve been talking about nature – Nature – for the past few newsletters.  Okay, I’ve been talking and you’ve, presumably, been listening.  (Remember, that comment space down there is to establish a dialog.)

Sometimes Nature gets really overwhelming and it’s really hard to stay connected.  We’ve had a lot of that lately . . . floods, droughts, wildfires.  All pretty scary stuff.  Even from a distance, and especially when we’re in the midst of it.  Chaos in our climate.

If we look from macrocosm to microcosm, we see things like fevers or tumours or other reactions to the chaos that can develop in our physical systems.  Anxiety.  Debility.  Things that lead us to the fear of the other “D” word.

It can be really tempting to give up and pretend that we can dwell only in the spirit and mind.  We won’t even try to play with the big boys and girls.

Did you notice that word “pretend”?  Sorry to say, when we cut off consciousness to the physical, we’re also cutting off from mind and spirit.  They’re a package deal, folks.  Can you say “delusion”?

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So what do we do when nature/Nature gets that big and scary?

There’s a long and a short version of that story and they’re both spelled “m-e-d-i-t-a-t-i-o-n”.

We’ve got this amazing connector between our various aspects: breath.

The short version is, pay attention to your breathing when you’re confronted with the immensity and chaos of life.  Get all Greek goddess and just do it.

The long version is, pay attention to your breathing.  Really pay attention.  Which nostril is taking in more air at the moment?  What moves when you breathe?  Do you like exhaling more than inhaling?  Which takes longer?  Is every breath the same?  Do you breathe more into one side of the body than the other?  More into the front or back?  Are there sobs or sighs happening on the way in or out?

Look, you’re still alive, so you’ve been breathing “correctly” so far.  The point is not to do it “right”; it’s to be attentive to that basic connection between your body, mind and spirit.

You don’t really have a choice about staying with nature/Nature. Let your breath help you not to lose your mind or spirit as you stay with the difficult times in your body.

Tuning to Nature

Spring is in full fling here in the northern hemisphere, with bursting flowers and singing birds making nature all Disney, all the time.  Of course, those of you in the south are in the “wait a minute!” line, looking at the remains of coloured leaves and short, chill days.

So what if you’re not feeling supported by nature’s outbursts?  What if you’re decidedly hermetic, ready to withdraw from sunny spring up north?  Or you’re just bursting with inspired enthusiasm down south?

There’s something special that happens when we feel attuned to nature’s cycles. We feel in step with the Universe, in its manifestation in multiple species.  We’re in the flow, carried along by energies greater than our individual selves.

But life does stuff that can interrupt that flow.  You live 14 hours a day in a cubicle with a computer and then move through asphalt-land to find a soft spot to land for sleeping, so nature is irrelevant.  Your best friend dies and time just stops, along with the song in your heart.  Just as nature is gearing down to sleep, the project you’ve poured your heart and soul into takes off, and so does your spirit.

I can just hear those of you who are coming up on full-scale autumn now:  “But I don’t want to slow down and go into hibernation!”  Especially those of you ready to zoom ahead on your renewed enthusiasm for life.

No, you don’t have to find your inner bear and let it run the show.  But you do have to acknowledge it and give it its due.

1605 Tuning to NatureSo, how do we tune in to the natural rhythms of life when we’re out of step?  And how do we keep in sync when being tuned in is our natural tendency?

Easy peasy (okay, a little effort if you’re the cooped-up cubicle soul).   Pay attention to something in nature.

Are there birds you hear regularly?  Pay attention.  A tree you can watch change with the seasons?  Pay attention.  Animals who regularly cross your path?  Attention.

Yes, in the cubicle it can take a little more to have something to attend to.   Webcams gotcha covered:  eagles, otters, nature.

So, no, you don’t need to rev all the way up to the springtime party when you need time to grieve.  And you don’t need to dial down to hibernation when you’re cleared for takeoff.   Tuning in to the new life of spring will support you through loss to your own regeneration.   The slowing down of autumn will keep you grounded and help you find restful time-outs in the midst of new excitement.

Your connection to nature is your connection to the Universe in all its large- and small-scale splendour . . . . and every scale in between.

The Filters of Vision

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Target Altitude

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Yoga Thoughts

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Yama is yoga’s Social ethics, how we practice to get along with each other.

Michael Stone‘s way of looking at these . . .

Ahimsa: recognizing that I am not separate from all that is.  Non-violence

Satya: listening, acting and speaking from the heart in each spontaneous circumstance.  Truthfulness

Asteya: being satisfied with what I have; not taking what is not freely given.  Non-stealing

Brahmacharya: encountering all creatures with respect and dignity; wise use of sexual energy.  Continence

Aparigraha: using all the ingredients of my life without clinging.  Non-possessiveness

How is your asana practice reflecting your yama?  How is your yama out in the world reflecting your yoga?