It is said often enough to have become cliche, but as is the case with most cliches, it is true: the only constant is change. The only true stability we can find is in acceptance of this fact.
Even the ground we stand on – so seemingly stable and solid – is the surface of a planet constantly in motion. The Earth itself spins through its orbit, never pausing and never retracing the same path twice. Even within our bodies, there is constant movement and change – even as we sit “perfectly still,” lungs are expanding and contracting, heart is beating, cells are dying and multiplying. In a very real sense, our bodies are never the same twice – and yet, even within all of the movement and change on both the macro and the micro level, the law of physics that matter can neither be created nor destroyed.
This season brings tangible reminders of this fact, as the leaves change color in one last celebratory hurrah before falling to the earth. The very decomposition of the old leaves creates fertile soil for new trees to grow – and so it goes. In the process of cleaning the house, it may momentarily look like a bigger mess. Oftentimes in life things seem to be falling apart, but that could be considered a matter of perspective.
As Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says, “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
Shiva, the Hindu god representing the destructive aspect of creation, is often seen encircled by the ouroboros, a symbol depicting a snake or a lizard eating it’s own tail. This ancient symbol is prominent in Greek, Egyptian and Hindu culture, and represents the circular nature of the universe and time: death-rebirth, creation-destruction, love-hate, the cycling of seasons; the eternal dance of the cosmos.
As we move into this season of longer nights and colder temperatures, know that this is all a part of the process. Know that sometimes falling apart is a part of the process of regeneration, and that you are supported by your practice and your community. Practice well, nourish yourself, and enjoy all the colors of the season!