Welcome Home to Your Practice

mushroom

Undoubtedly you will agree that one of the great joys of living in this area of the world is being able to take walks in the magnificent forests that surround our lovely little city in the mountains.

Have you ever taken a walk down a familiar path, and found yourself wondering, “Wait – IS this the same familiar beaten path?” Have you ever walked at a different time of day or year than usual, and discovered that you were potentially in danger of becoming lost? It is a magical aspect of the natural world, that depending on the time of day, the season of the year, the direction one decides walk,  a familiar patch of woods can feel completely new. Perhaps the light at a certain hour of the morning illuminates a huge old stump just off the path that had previously gone unnoticed, even though it obviously must have been there for years. Perhaps a rock out-cropping that had been covered by foliage all summer is suddenly made visible as the trees drop their leaves in the fall. A gulch that was dry all winter, suddenly becomes a stream in the melting of the spring.  A faerie ring of mushrooms suddenly appears one morning in the middle of the path. If we are attuned to pay attention – (or often, even if we aren’t particularly trying!) these are the sorts of things that keep us engaged in our surroundings, and help us understand ourselves as moving pieces of an ever-shifting environment. These are the sorts of things that help us understand that how we perceive our lives is largely a matter of context and perspective.
As humans we expect thing to be a certain way. We expect objects to more or less hold their forms, and behave in predictable ways. We seek reliable landmarks on the paths we travel, and can feel disconcerted when things have shifted. Luckily, we are also extremely adaptable beings, and on some level, aware that change is truly the only constant there is. This is true of our own bodies, and when we have a regular physical practice such as yoga, we gain the potential to understand this even more deeply! If we are wise, we allow our practice to evolve and adapt. Through aging, injury, pregnancy, birth, grief, joy, any myriad of physical and psychological changes that we will experience in this life, we find practices to support us on our unique (and often shared!) paths.
For many of us, this time of year marks both a time of new beginnings – or perhaps more aptly put, a time of return to begin again. Even if we are no longer bound by the school year, most of us have ingrained in us that this is a time to return – to school, to our winter homes, to discipline and structure – perhaps to a practice that lost its regularity in the relative chaos of summer, a season characterized by travel and spontaneous adventure. A steady practice – not an object at all, but an on-going process – may turn out to provide the most reliable guide-posts of all, as we traverse the wilderness of our Selves.
May your familiar path be full of new vision, and ever illuminated by consistent practice!