RESTORATIVE-YIN YOGA involves supported body/mind relaxation. This is gentle, gentle yoga that promotes deep relaxation for stress reduction while also stretching and rehabilitating connective tissue.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Deep Ground / Deep Heart

Copyright Lance Kinseth, Deep Stillness / Shinshi, 2011

A killing frost has swept away so much life.

Biota have gone underground and under leaf fall.

The floral book of the year is closed. 
But flora have not ended.
 Leaves have become a living page in the book of the Earth
 And flora have gone into their deep root-heart 
And have sealed up in seeds.

IN THE EARTHEN yin-yang sway of the seasons, it is spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the Northern Hemisphere, it is a muted landscape of the leaf fall and frosts of autumn.  The natural world is not some backdrop to human life, but rather, immerses human life, and offers rich provocations.

Globally, there is a spiritual/metaphysical sense that everyday life is an expression of the known universe and vast unknowable cosmos, and every event is a mini-universe.  And in a scientific sense, this more esoteric sense is expressed in our growing ecological literacy.  And so, there is an enduring recognition that there is a deep, longer reach of self, and the practical implication of this recognition is that the “little universe of self” is optimized when it is in harmony with the vast cosmos.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the environmental changes are dramatic.  The entire landscape transforms it coloration and the daylight continues to appreciably shorten, and the sun lowers still further in its arc across the southern horizon.  And human activity begins to make major shifts to match these changes.  Jackets and thicker coats appear, especially in the mornings.  Kettles begin to simmer with the slow cooking of soups and stews.  Outside, ice-cold rains come now and again, sparingly.  And the window may begin to frost.  The more that ice appears, the more that fire seems to balance it.  We counter the chill with the fireside hearth and perhaps kindle a rich ember within us, provoked by salving the elemental hunger for fire before the hands.  In the increasing coolness or in the Yin reduction of rain and humidity (that might generate its Yang counterpart in monsoons in the Southern Hemisphere), there may be an increased sense of “fire” in the heart in the form of a radiant ember deep within body and soul.

Wintering birds begin to gather in rookeries in bare-boned treetops and in non-rookery out-of-the wind yews and hedges.  Trees become skeletal, but there is a rich life that has gone down into the roots, deeply grounded. 

There is a sense of melancholy—a tinge of sorrow—at the loss of the flora and the cold that precedes the coming winter, but also, a strong opportunity to be “mellow” and calmed.

In body-mind practices, the quality of deepening autumn in either Hemisphere may begin to be reflected in our slowing and quieting even more.  The autumnal retreat of flora within and underground may encourage a deeper grounding within our experience.

Frost on the windowpane becomes a magical looking glass that may peer far deeper than the terrain outside the window.  Gazing into it, we may come more inside ourselves, and mellow, and simmer and slow-cook and then savor complex melds of feelings and deep time that are lost in the fast dance of life that is “summer.” 

If you amble outside the parameters of sidewalks—if you step even just slightly off the sidewalk, the heart of the forest opens, and we can amble there more easily. Each step there is rich ambrosia in our crush of the leaf fall.  The all-ness or alikeness of the landscape—gone from viridian to ochre—may be soothing in its simplistic appearance.  The insects are gone, and the sound is closer to silence than before, but marked occasionally by the sharp caws of a gathering of crows.   

In a killing frost, in the small view, we see the demise of exquisite life, but if we stand back far enough, we see the transformation of life, wherein on a very high level, there is really no birth or death, just this ongoing creative flow.  Our personal life is somehow there.

By calming and quieting, we connect with the tempered pace of the world itself.  And we have an opportunity to discover that this world is flowing through us.  As the physical world cools, we root deeper, kindling an ember deep inside ourselves against the ice.   Everyday, we are wont to go fast, to reduce experiences to quick flashes.  Deep autumn can provoke a value in slowing down, in “slow-cooking” and “stewing,” of going deeply inside, of deep grounding, of coming closer to the heart of practice.

In the autumn and winter of our year, anywhere in the biosphere of the Earth, we are offered this opportunity to “come inside,” and to listen more deeply to that which is somehow “within.”  And in going there, we find that “within” stands to become a doorway to everything rather than an island that walls us off from the world.

So come now, in November in the growing darkness of both mornings and evenings in the Northern Hemisphere, and open the growing “lightness” from that powerful ember of energy that emanates from within us.  This same light awaits us in every season, in every day, and in every moment.   

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