I grew up in New England. There's nothing that can compare to the fall in the East. Maple leaves, maple syrup, pumpkin patches and apple trees, they all have a special place in my heart. Now, living in the land of arid climates and high alpine forest, I sometimes lament about what I used to have. And then, I remember, where I live.
After Labor Day, Lake Tahoe takes on a whole new vibe. As the crisp, fall air drifts in each morning and the warmth of the sun is felt later and later in the day, a peacefulness arrives. The hundreds of boats cris-crossing the lake are gone. The average driving speed has slowed, once again. All of us, who live here, take a deep breath and sit down to relax.
This is Yoga, my friends. This is honoring what we have and enjoying the present. As we sit back and review all the hard work of the summer, this is Yoga. Our lives in this community are cyclical, just like the flow of life. As yogis, it is our duty to recognize our habits, patterns and hurdles. Living in Tahoe offers a unique perspective on this practice. Every Summer, we work, we play, we sell. We rest, in the fall. Every Winter, we burn the midnight oil and rise with the dawn to hit the slopes. In the spring, we pause, again.
During these pauses, these moments of rest, there is an opportunity to learn. Yoga is the practice of understanding who you are. Of understanding our habits and changing them. As Autumn arrives and settles in upon us, enjoy the peace and quiet. Sit back and look upon yourself. As the seasons change, maybe you will, too.
How many times have you found yourself listening to something and being distracted by another sound?
I think back to my grade school years and how, although I was interested in what was being taught, I was so easily distracted by the sound of a tapping pencil, creaking chair or bird singing outside. As we know, our minds are constantly drawn into many directions. We are being hit with millions if not billions of pieces of information at any minute and focusing on just one can seem like an impossibility.
Now, consider the last time you were in silence. What did you hear? One would hope the answer is "nothing," but it's most likely that you heard something. Perhaps a buzzing or high pitched ringing or maybe, just maybe your own internal "Aum."
Using sounds as part of our practice to find one-pointedness and mediation can be very helpful. Sounds can help us to become centered and to draw us inward. Of course, they can do the opposite, as well. The sound of screeching tires or an alarm can certainly draw you outside of yourself. In opposition, the sound of your own voice in a hum can draw you inward. A deep bass can connect you to your belly and your favorite song can rush in memories of old.
This month, as we focus on finding stillness in our asana practice, we will also use the sounds around us to help us draw inward. Even the pounding of the dancer's feet on the floor above offers the opportunity of practice to bring our attention inward. As your physical practice becomes more still, so shall your mind, breath and spirit.