Autumn is a time of transition for us all, whether we or family members are preparing to go back to school or work, or if we’re simply continuing with the same schedule we’ve had for the past several weeks, months or years.
The air changes. As the languorous heat of summer is swept away by the cooling winds of fall, there’s a shift in the energy around us and within us. Can you feel it? For some of us this change is welcome – we use it to take on new projects, to get at our to-do lists with renewed vigour, resume activities given up on too-hot days. For some of us, this shift is overwhelming. The energy knocks us off-balance; we feel pulled in multiple directions, have a difficult time focusing, and molehills become mountains.
Where do you find yourself on this spectrum? I find myself somewhere in the middle. I love the feeling of more energy, but that feels pretty wasted when I’m unable to focus on the task in front of me for more than ten minutes. Can you relate?
The transition seems amplified and more difficult to manage this year. Trying to find “normal” when we’re not sure what next week will look like is hard enough. Doing so in a world that is increasingly polarized by the challenges we face feels impossible sometimes.
What’s the solution? That autumn wind won’t settle for a while yet; it will continue to swirl around us, pushing and pulling, threatening to uproot us. We need to find our inner strength again, and no-one can do it for us. The work is our own, and it must take place from the inside, not from a place of thinking, but from a place of feeling.
What are you doing right now?
Are you holding your breath?
Take a moment and feel this inhalation moving into your body, into your belly, into your centre.
Feel your body changing shape around this breath as it comes and goes.
Are you sitting down as you read this? Can you feel your butt on the chair?
Are you standing? Can you feel your feet on the ground?
Feel this inhalation.
Feel this exhalation.
What’s happening with your jaw? With your shoulders?
Is there some undoing that can take place?
Stay with the coming and going of breath for a while longer.
Can you feel the surface of your skin?
Can you feel your centre?
Stay with feeling for a while longer.
As you feel your breath, as you feel your body, your connection to the ground,
Can you feel yourself as whole?
Feel your breath, feel it inside of you, outside of you.
Can you feel your breath in the wind around you?
As you feel your connection to the ground, can you stand firm in the wind?
Rooted, swaying, growing, bending,
But not breaking.
What do you need now? To sit with your breath for a while longer? To put your feet on the earth and walk or run? To hold someone you love? To take a nap?
I invite you to continue to journey inward, whether through seated meditation, mindful movement, or through some other contemplative practice. I hope that in connecting to your centre, you cultivate the ability to meet each moment skillfully, with strength, wisdom and equanimity.
Joanne Hudspith is a yoga therapist and teacher based in Hamilton, Ontario. More information about Joanne and how to work with her can be found at joannehudspith.com.