Cat From The Mat

Good Grief

It's Halloween, which is considered the Celtic New Year.  Samhain (pronounced "sow-in") is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, the darker half of the year.  It's a time of looking back with appreciation and assessing all that has transpired.  It's also a time of seasonal transition, as we segue into longer nights and shorter days.  Whether beginning a new year, relationship, or phase in your life, in order to move into the next thing, an ending is inevitable.  Endings mark beginnings.  They involve stages that we must go through and cannot skip, in order to set the scene for the next creative endeavor. 

The life you have been living has outgrown its form, and must die so new energy can be released. May you undergo a death within your self. You are always free to resist, but remain mindful that the new life is always greater than the old. Prepare then for opportunity disguised as loss.” -The Rune of Termination and New Beginnings

2013 has been a year of dissolution for me.  Things that had been working, or just hobbling along, finally reached a tipping point.  Radical revision has been required, something with which I struggle.  I like consistency and routine to keep me anchored.  Yet, life has a way of uprooting us all.  Yoga is the practice of being comfortable being slightly uncomfortable, especially during shifts.  Change is the constant.  We are always in a cycle of adjusting and readjusting, whether at the beginning, middle, or end of any situation.  This often takes time and doesn't occur overnight.  Are you cognizant when you are in a transition?  Can you appreciate the discomfort, knowing that transformation is afoot?  This is a honed skill of the yogin.

Throughout the year, foundational tectonic plates have been moving beneath my feet.  I have been grieving…the death of loved ones, the end of long-standing friendships, and breakdowns in health, to name a few.  In the book "On Death and Dying," Elizabeth Kübler-Ross explains that there are five stages of grief.  She hypothesizes that when faced with the impending death of someone or something, we experience the sequence of: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  To miss any of these stages is to not completely move through the sorrow.  However painful and downright unpleasant, the act of experiencing each part of the cycle fully is the quickest and most informative way to process shifts in our lives.  This can carry us to a new starting point with a profound and iterative understanding. 

We practice these five stages every time we step onto the yoga mat.  We are invited through the full cycle in each and every pose.  In fact, when we conclude each class with the corpse pose (savasana), we embrace an ending, the ultimate act of letting go…acceptance.  It is from this disintegration that we reintegrate and move back out into our lives with a fresh perspective. We begin anew.

As we transition from fall into winter, we savor the fruits of the harvest while planting seeds in the dark.  The death of the ripe fruit contains the seedling for the future generation, while fostered in the fertile soil of change.  This requires constant cultivation and attention.  There seems to be a change of consciousness in the autumnal air.  What are you holding on to so tightly?  What would you like to release into the ether?  How would you like to design your life, so that your losses can fuel your growth?  I myself am looking forward to what's next.  I don't know exactly what it is.  But having practiced letting go thus far, I feel more prepared.  Good grief, I'm ready!

Cat From The Mat

Oct/Nov 2013