I noticed the transition this past week – my hands felt smooth and papery when I woke up in the morning, the bathroom floor tiles felt cold instead of cool under my feet. I started craving warm foods in the morning and evening, and I felt quiet, more inward. I observed my body and mind responding to the shifting weather and moving into their autumnal state. It wasn’t an external marker that made me aware of the seasonal shift, such as the beginning of the academic year or baseball season waning. The transition could be felt in my very body chemistry - sort of like a plant responding to the barometric pressure.
Everything in nature pulsates energetically. In yoga we use the Sanskrit word spanda to refer to the pulsation of the universe, of nature, of our bodies. Just as a flower or leaf may close at night and open up again in the daylight, our bodies open and close, drawing energy inward and then radiating it back out.
If we look at the statue of Nataraja, we can see that his upper right hand holds a damaru, or drum, which represents creation, and his upper left hand holds fire, which represents destruction. We know that a tree’s leaves have to shrivel and fall in order for the tree to create new buds and blossoms. This is the natural pulsation of things. In any aspect of our lives we must recognize that there is a time when we need to shed an old habit or pattern so that we can create a new one that serves us better. We need to let the old leaves die to make way for the new. If we resist change, we deny nature.
In this transitional time of year – light giving over to increasing darkness, green growing things slowly turning brown, we have the reminder of what we need to do for ourselves. How can we gracefully transition from the external expressiveness of summer into a more inward autumnal state? How can we hold closely what is essential and shed what is no longer needed?