I know I say it quite often, but nature is amazing, humbling, and always teaching us. The act of observing provides us with a window to pause and make sense of the world both at its most beautiful and most harsh. As we see the spectacular fireworks of color shooting out of the ground and bursting from the tips of trees, it is easy to become lulled by the seemingly ease-filled emergence and take it for what it is, but we all know that elegant simplicity in our human world is often a product born from questioning and chaos.
Nature is no different.
This week the Kindergarten class was tasked with observing a cup full of caterpillars while the first grade class was given the rare opportunity to witness fertile eggs in an incubator. Likewise, this big kid (me) chose to cold stratify a bunch of seeds from trees. Most of us remember the lifecycle lessons of plants, butterflies and chicks, but in this wonder-filled world I was happily given the chance to learn about cold stratification. Moreso, I felt elated to feel…curious. For those unfamiliar with the term, this is the process of exposing seeds to cold, dark and moist conditions in order to encourage germination. In nature the process takes place when fallen seeds overwinter underground or beneath a layer of snow. In the human world, the process takes place when seeds are placed in a dampened cloth in a cold and dark environment. With all of these processes of emergence, there is a great deal of time seemingly standing in a timeless state of sameness while much is happening beneath the surface.
While preparing these seeds to put into my refrigerator, I was reminded of how the natural world mirrors our own inner worlds. You see, during last Fall, something shifted inside of me and many things fell. I was that tree, leafless and weathered, that was standing upright against the push of a lot of personal and professional turmoil. To be completely transparent, I was having a breakdown while juggling a lot of balls and plugging fingers and toes to stem the leaks. It wasn’t pretty. All of my previously acquired tools through yoga and counseling were not the right ones and I was spiraling down into some pretty dark places. After a lot of struggle with my own beliefs and ego that I was ‘strong’ enough to tackle anything, I picked up the phone and called my doctor who after many questions put me on medication.
It’s a funny thing, life. After many years of guiding friends and family to be willing to be open to whatever help was out there, I was countering said advice with obstinance. I was also in complete chaos. Once I began medication, a cooling hug hush fell inside me and while it felt odd, it was also a welcome relief to silence the nagging voice at play in the back of my brain. It was like I had wrapped myself in a deep blanket to encourage myself to take space. Over the months on medication, I began to have a different energy and the wherewithal to move the tiles of my life around just like those puzzles we had as a kid that had one square missing to facilitate movement to both scramble and unravel the picture. As the pieces began to shift, so to did circumstances, the weather and the season….-as well as the wondering if the tool of medication was the right one. I decided that the time was right to pause my medication with the guidance of my doctor and counsellor and put my trust in the time excavating, the progress made, the knowing that I could indeed always shift back if needed, and the understanding that I was plenty. At first I became anxious, worrying if I had done the right thing to come out of my own cold stratification but as the days and weeks elapsed, I noticed that my soul was handling things in a different way which was aided by the time, space and relief that the medication provided. Eventually the energy to cry and face hard things as well as to cry over the beauty of things came back. Both, and everything in between, were very welcome after months of dormancy.
Yoga and meditation are both amazing practices and tools. While they are not the only tools, I’ve come to appreciate more and more that to embody both, we must be willing to pause, to see ourselves honestly, and to practice with curiosity and courage to take the next breath and make the next move. The willingness to explore rather than with the will of our egos or expectations aids us in seeing all parts of the journey as vital for our own process and progress.
Regardless of where you’re at presently, I urge you to pause, observe and witness the beauty of this moment- your moment.