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September is a time to accept the embers

Embedded within the allegorical myths of Hindu cosmology is the understanding that life experience is framed in periods defined as yugas. There are 4 yugas and each cycle of time is 4, 320,000 years - yes a long time! At the end of each yuga, the great Lord Shiva is called upon to perform the tandava, his dance of destruction which set's the cosmos ablaze and burns everything to ash. When all is raised to the ground the playing field of life is levelled and creation begins anew.

The generating and dissolving cycle is displayed in full technicolour throughout nature, if we choose to look. In our day-to-day, mostly yang like existence, September arrives as a gasp erupting from August's parched longings. It may feel like a long awaited drink handed to us on a translucent tray or the relief that comes at the end of an expectant inhale, held to the very brink of its expiry date. More often though we can feel ourselves bullied into actively doing, unable to avoid being pulled forwards by a surging crowd of relentless requirements to get busy and make things happen.

Whether it's timetabled responsibilities and the checklists of a new term or a bristling call to plan now for the darker half of the year; September yells get out of your lazy bed and get to work. Nature must surely try not to snigger at us as she gracefully does the opposite.

Image Source: Lou Hart Facebook post - Dedham Retreats

Taking inspiration from the subtle breeze, whose tender finger strokes our cheek in those missed moments of a sanguine lull between all the doing. The moments between all the other moments that make up time's fullness and dissolve in its emptiness. Here she whispers of an unseen cycle within us, the shift towards retreat.

The transitional change is inevitable and yet our desire for control and order and the pressures of modern society command us to resist nature's poignant offerings. So therein lies a choice. Becoming aware of our own agency to notice and receive wisdom from the symbols around us. As weather patterns alter, they guide us to instigating preparations for change - we don't have to do everything immediately. A coolness in the air temperature, can be a sign that we are moving towards a period of rest and reformation. The earth emits her aromas of arousal as she begins to salivate in the dark cave beneath the surface at the expectation of fuel. The detritus of the previous season is surrendering its exhausted life into nourishment. A dawn chorus's momentum strikes a different note. A change so slight that without attention it would go unnoticed, but in the realm of the birds many are readying for flight to warmer climbs. And perhaps most noticeable of all, nature's lustrous palette meets our gaze. The final flourishes of brightening hues on leaves that no longer need to photosynthesis the light and can now transform from green to gold, auburn, russet, cerise and ochre tones and ignite awareness of the gems that glisten under the glossed over embers of Summer.

In a practical sense the poetic beauty of this period between Summer and Autumn does offer us clues to help smooth our own transition. Here are some ideas you might like to cogitate upon or maybe allow yourself to wallow a while and recall a memory of two of the past few months for inspiration:

  • Where am I frantically rushing to get things done to meet what are self imposed deadlines?

  • What needs to shift inside which is resisting the inevitable forces of change? This might be intentions regarding diet, activity, relationships, schedules, work choices, support networks, friendships, big decisions etc.

  • What can I become aware of and acknowledge as a gem to hold now from the months gone before and make use of in the intervening months before Winter? Was there an activity you did this Summer that you loved or a place that made you feel calm, rested, offered some clarity or alertness? Did you meet someone that you felt a connection to and now realise that niggle in your tissues is an enquiry to explore that further? Did an idea dawn of something you would love to create - alone or with others? Write it down now then let it marinade a while but set an intention to go back to it and put a date to do that on the calendar.

Preparing for the autumn leads us towards balance. We notice where we have been striving and perhaps could relinquish the hold a goal had over us and let ourselves sway a while in the in-between to allow the adaptation to fall into place or something new to arise. Remember not everything has to be done straight away. Swift action may be necessary in certain areas of our lives but the cutting edge of a blade that strikes too quickly, tears away the fabric that can make us resilient and whole and will require healing.

The lingering of sounds that call you back to lessons learned are baked in the mind, just as the summer sun baked the ground making it a firm support on which to now rest. The remembering with fondness, appreciation and acceptance, rather than a yearning to rewind, can build a support surround - these inner dolby stereo speakers that vibrate and lead us to what remains underneath the ash and what wants to now be found. It's a time to allow the great reveal to unfold. Listen in to the new rhythms that beats like Shiva's tamaru, the hourglass drum which symbolises the rhythmic sounds of the tandava, to which Nataraja dances and ceaselessly recreates the cosmos.

Image Source - Wake The Tiger exhibition, Bristol

I'd love it if you would be willing to share your reflections on how you are navigating your way and whether there is a particular practice or tool you use to help you do this. Please leave a comment below if you wish to.

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