Meister Eckhart, a German philosopher from the late 1200's said, "We know so many things but we don't know ourselves. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there."
During this week before Thanksgiving, we look to be grounded, to find that calm, safe and secure space. Yoga's sister science of Ayurveda reminds us autumn is a time of vata energy. When in excess, vata contains the possibility of associated imbalances of headaches, anxiety and a general lack of energy.
We can ground ourselves by spending time in nature, using the yogic breathing technique of alternate nostril breath, and eating grounding foods such as root vegetables served warm.
In my classes this week our focus word was 'santosha' or 'contentment'. Yoga Sutra 2.42, 'Santosha anuttamah sukha labha' roughly translates to 'contentment brings extreme happiness'. The month of November, with its Thanksgiving celebration, is a perfect time to practice contentment and gratitude - to love our life as it is, count our blessings and find joy in every moment.
The yogic practice of aparigraha, non-clinging or non-grasping, teaches us to let go of what we no longer need - something nature has forever done. Trees no longer hold their leaves, and we, too, can let go of the past, face the future to become the best of who we are.
Nature can teach us.
This week I did leaf gazing meditations with classes. I encourage you to take a walk, feel the earth beneath your feet, and select a leaf. Hold the leaf at eye level and gaze at its colors and shape. Close your eyes and feel its texture. Does it hold a scent? Bring your focus to your breath as you hold the leaf with your eyes closed. Feel your connection with the Earth. Consider a positive affirmation. Know just as the trees have let go, you can as well creating space for something better.
Susan Kain is a Registered Yoga teacher, Pilates instructor, and a Certified Personal Trainer with classes for all ages from toddlers to senior citizens.