Winter is beautiful even with the grey bits

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.

The Yamas (YS2.30)

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 :

  • Ahimsa/Non-harming: acceptance is an aspect of non-harming; we try to offer the space to another to allow them to be just as they are, without condition. For the following four yama, ahimsa must be observed
    • Can you accept the season just as it is?
  • Satya/Truth or Honesty: can you be completely present for another and authentic in your communication?
    • Can you really accept the season just as it is? Not just with words but a full body and soul immersion? Sun, rain, gloom, wind, cold, brightness, dark, light …
  • Asteya/Non-stealing: we can view attachment as the result of stealing: we might steal the things we need and try to keep them just as they are, creating samyoga/restriction/confusion
    • In allowing all parts of the season, we can be aware when treasures arise: A grey day becomes clear; a wet day becomes dry, a winter’s gale becomes still. This will nourish us when the less favourable moments or days are experienced
  • Brahmacarya/Travelling towards the highest truth: maintaining our priorities and boundaries
    • Maintaining our daily routines whatever the weather. Is there a part of the year where you disappear because of the weather? (For example, I am happy to crawl into a dark space when the sun is hot – not very useful to those around me)
  • Aparigraha/Non-assumption, non-judgement: not allowing the accumulation of experiences in a relationship to inform every meeting or to place expectations on another, or yourself
    • Meeting each season, each day afresh. Not making assumptions or judging whether a day is good or bad. It just is

I’d love some feedback. How did you get on? Contact

Winter in Long Ashton

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

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