“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.”― Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Every year, I forget – and then remember – the challenge of the seasonal transition from summer to fall. The fullness of late August seems to run right into the busyness of September, and yet the mornings grow darker, and the cooler temperatures arrive, so quickly. All signs point to slowing down, in spite of my best efforts to keep going going going. It can feel like a train pulling into a station too quickly: bracing against the force of our strong forward-motion as it meets the resistance of brakes-screeching. It’s not until we’ve come to a complete stop that the tension releases, and with it a deep exhale of relief. We have arrived at our destination.
On a recent morning, life gave me a lesson as to how I might better adjust to the arrival of autumn (and the inevitable coming winter). I thought I had left enough time to drive my child to the bus stop, and from there I would head into Burlington to teach an early morning class. Did I mention there was some frost on the ground at my home in Jericho this particular morning? Upon leaving the house in a bit of a rush, my son and I both slipped (nearly fell) down the frost-covered porch stairs. And the windshield of my car was covered in frost. And who the heck knows where the ice-scraper is?!? Needless to say, things did not go as planned. A moment of pause was necessary, and in that pause the message came through:

Slow down. Make space. Remember where your tools are!

The energy of autumn rings out a call to slow down and come home to ourselves. To come back to the quiet places of inner stillness, and to rest fully in those places – even for a brief moment – so that we can be more available for clear, inspired action whenever and wherever it is needed. Here are two very short practices in slowing down, which can be done just about anywhere, anytime:

  • Simple breath awareness: Take a pause from whatever you are doing. With eyes open or closed, bring your awareness to your naturally-occuring breath. Notice your belly moving as you breathe. Practice the following gatha for three full breaths: “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.” Observe any shifts in your energy or attention.
  • Easy flow with breath: Practice the following sequence 3x seated or standing, coordinating breath with movement. Start from a relaxed, neutral position with your hands by your sides, on your thighs, or folded in your lap.
    • Breathing in, bring palms together in front of your heart
    • Breathing out, interlace hands and press palms forward, dropping chin to chest, allowing back to round and spreading shoulder blades away from each other
    • Breathing in, sweep interlaced hands palm-face up towards the sky
    • Breathing out, release hands and reach arms down and back behind you (hands to low back or chair/floor if sitting)
    • Breathing in, lift your gaze and bring your shoulder blades and elbows towards eachother behind you
    • Breathing out, come back to neutral starting position.
    • After moving through this sequence several times, pause and notice how you feel. Has anything shifted?

What are your tools for slowing down, and arriving more fully into relaxed presence? Take note of what helps you to feel more present, calm, and peaceful, so that you can recall these tools more easily when needed.
~ Christine Holt
Get back to basics and experience how small, simple practices can affect your daily life. Join Christine for a six-week Beginner Yoga series starting on November 5.

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