Most days when I’m out on a walk, someone will say to me ‘only a few days to the shortest day of the year …’. I understand people’s responses to grey and gloom but even in winter there are moments of exceptional beauty and brightness. I have never wished away the winter days; I find the summer heat more challenging. On the recent Sunday morning sanga we spent time considering our relationship with the cycle of the year. There was a bit of massaging of the traditional translations of the yamas – the first limbs of astanga – but from the feedback, the majority of the group unpicked some of their habitual responses. How about you?
First of all, spend some time thinking about the yearly cycle by answering the following questions. You might not have a strong feeling either way, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. I want you to think about the year as a whole and the parts that make up that whole. Some of your answers might be the same for the whole year or you might feel there is a different answer depending on the time of year. You might like to draw four columns, one for each season …
|Write down a few adjectives to describe each season|
|Do you have a physical response to different times of the year: aches/pains; coughs, colds, headaches, digestive upset?|
|Are your energy levels different through the year: start of day / end of day / during the day |
What do you notice?
|Is your sleep different through the year? Longer / shorter / disrupted / long but unrested|
|Do you look after yourself differently at different times of year? |
If yes, why? What are the external influences?
|What’s your relationship with regularity? |
Do you like it? Do you resent it? Does this change through the year?
|What sort of things make you feel better or worse generally? |
Does this change with the season?
|Are you aware when your body asks for rest? |
Do you allow yourself to rest? Do you override the need? How do you do this? What’s the result?
Review your answers. Is there is a pattern? Were some questions easier to answer than others? Do you have habitual responses that perhaps colour the full experience of a season? Maybe you are someone who loves every aspect of the seasons, in which case I assume the exercise was one of gratitude.
These are qualities to embody in ourselves to enrich our relationships. Relationship with other beings involve communication and feedback. The seasons are a little less open to negotiation. We did a lot of talking on the morning; the spirit of the practice is to unravel our learned responses and encourage an openness and enthusiasm to the cycle of the year :
I try to get out inbetween appointments or after group meetings. Now I’m limiting my use of social media, I haven’t been able to share these. I hope you enjoy them