What they undertook to do
They brought to pass
All things hang like a drop of dew
Upon a blade of grass.
W.B. Yeats

Signs of autumn are seemingly everywhere.  The sun is setting earlier and rising later.  Cooler temperatures are beginning to settle in.  And, the leaves on the deciduous trees have become so brilliantly red and yellow that I’ve gone searching in my closet for blouses with similar hues, and finding some tucked behind the pastel pinks and blues.  Likewise with food:  the colors are shifting from the brighter greens to deeper shades in fruits and vegetables.

More than any other season, fall now reminds me of the sacred grace of surrender.  Perhaps it is because in the Northern Hemisphere, there is this easing from a season of growth to one of hibernation.  Like a long exhale, the plants abundantly yield into the beginning of a new cycle and the sustenance of other living beings.  In the letting go, openness seeps in, and light becomes more visible between the bare branches and withering stems.

As a child, this season was mostly a time of new beginnings and looking forward.  Preceding the expected new lessons was a much-anticipated visit to the local drug store for school supplies, which were then pencils and notebooks.   Still, I had some tethers to the timeless rhythms of the generosity that comes with releasing and letting go.  In the agricultural community where I grew up, harvesting was in the gardens and in the fields.  Regardless of whether scarce or plentiful, there was a tending to that what was and preparing for unknown possibility for next year.

Similar to the fall fruits, the insight of W.B. Yeats and other sage poets nourishes future generations – albeit the psyche and the soul rather than the physical body of others.  I feel the bittersweet messages of the autumn season is symbolically reflected within his poem “Gratitude for Unknown Teachers.”  There is a suspension between hope and foreboding, permanence and impermanence and known and unknown, as well as the inevitable disappearance of clinging into surrender.

Practice
This short practice celebrates autumn.

Prepare – 

  • Turn your phone and any other devices to airplane mode.
  • Standing, gently shake out one limb at a time.   Then, lightly bounce in place with a soft bend in your knees and slight lifting and lowering of your heels.

Practice – 

  • Placing your hands over your heart center one hand over the other.
    • With your hands over your heart, invite your awareness to shift to your breath.
      • Perhaps begin by noticing the movements associated with your breathing, e.g., the gentle sensation of expanding and softening of your rib cage.
      • Then, if comfortable, perhaps let your attention shift to allowing your exhalations to slowly lengthen a bit more than your inhalations.
        • If this doesn’t feel accessible to you at this time, please no worries.
      • If you have a cold or allergies, or have any other condition related to your comfort with your respiratory system, please adjust the breathing part of this practice as needed.
    • Slowly, sweep your arms out to your sides and upward.  As you do this, inhale.
      • If possible, synchronize your breath within the movement, i.e., begin your inhalation, moving, and finishing the movement before you complete your inhalation.
    • As you exhale, bring your palms together and down to your heart center.
    • Repeat three times.   After the third time, repeat this again with the option of folding forward on the exhalation and rising back to standing on the inhalation.
      • If you choose the option, please stay mindful of your own body as well as the continued relationship between the breath and the movement.
  • Standing, place your hands over your heart center, one hand over the other.
    • Invite three smooth, even breaths.
    • Continue breathing, adding the following movement on the exhalation:
      • Slowly open your palms, reaching them out in front of you as though offering a gift to the world.  Allow your fingers and wrists to relax as though you are completely letting go.
        • As you let go, invite a sense of freely releasing and total surrender without expectation of accolades or knowing the next part of the journey of this gift.  Simply, let go.
        • Feel free to pause here for a few breaths.
    • When you are ready, return your palms to your heart center on an inhalation.  Feel free to pause here for a few breaths.
    • Repeat another two or three times.

Transition back into your day – 

  • Return to your seated position.  Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.

This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 28, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.   HEARTH is posted each new and full moon.  KateVogt©2021.

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