“Without feeling, there is no chance of wholeness, and wholeness remains our best chance to survive the pain of breaking.” Mark Nepo
I was at a yoga class recently where the teacher read us this quotation. It dropped like fresh rainfall into my heart and suddenly I understood how profound it is to open to a hidden feeling. Below the surface of my bravery, my cheerfulness, and my concentration on what I was doing, I discovered a deep well of sadness that I carry with me. I allowed it to rise and turn into tears for all of the fear, the grief, the anxiety, and the worry that I hold for myself and others. I became aware of how challenging life can be and how we often get lost during the times when we feel we’re going to break. What do we do when we feel this way? How can we shed the old and move into a different way of being so that we can survive this moment? Could it be in knowing that I am enough? And you are enough. And together, we are enough.
There needs to be a path to bring us back when we become restless and when the pain of life feels like too much. In yoga, the path starts with opening to the steady breath, then welcoming the gentle movements of the body, and in understanding that we are all connected. We begin to discover an inner rhythm that tunes us in to the changes around us. There is a different type of yoga for different seasons, so it can always remain fresh. In Autumn, we pause and remember what seeds were sown in earlier times. We then choose what we’ll harvest for ourselves as we go into the quietness of winter. We focus on strengthening the lungs and practicing cooler poses and spinal twists to bring our attention deeper inward, laying the groundwork for reaching into our roots and welcoming inner quiet so that feelings can arise. As the days become shorter, we notice the flow of the day is changing, and we naturally begin to choose what we have time for and what we want to let fall away. We welcome the longer nights with a good book or a pot of soup, nourishing the heart and soul. We gather near the fire, and nearer to each other.
As we cast off the heat of summer and prepare for the season of resting and dreaming, we can also shed whatever we are carrying that is no longer alive and vibrant within us. We have an opportunity to enter the realm of feelings that can lead us to greater healing. We have permission to rest and slow down, to ask for a deeper understanding of how we can help ourselves heal the body, the mind, and the spirit. Yoga gives us guidance to open to our souls and bring about a well needed respite.
Mark Nepo asks, “What are you being called to shed, to put to rest, in order to gain greater access to your feelings and the wholeness of life”?
May you find greater wholeness as you enter this beautiful season of Autumn.