Roughly every three months, the season changes. In some places in the world seasonal changes are quite evident. It others, it feels the same for most of the year. I’ve always been a fan of seasons because I like variety. With each new season brings a change in perspective, whether we consciously think about it or not. New fresh fruits and vegetables, new available activities, new temperatures, new clothing to meet those temperatures and associated forms of precipitation, new colors.
While I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions anymore, I do set intentions and I’m a fan of what I call the Seasonal Check-In where you take time to reflect on your intentions at each seasonal change rather then just once a year. That means we’re at that time again!
I approach Seasonal Check-ins as a special ritual. This year, on Thursday, I’ll set aside time to do my practice, taking into account the fact that the fall equinox is celebrated for the equality of lightness and darkness (even though the for-real equal amounts of light and dark actually happens on Sunday this year — that day is called equilux (no joke)!!).
The beauty of celebrating lightness and darkness
Once a few years ago, when I was still in my full-time marketing career, I wrote a newsletter introducing this idea about celebrating both the lightness and the darkness in the world. Culturally in America, we tend to ignore the darkness and pretend it doesn’t exist. This may be one reason why a tradition that historically celebrates death (Day of the Dead) turned into a fusion of fall-festival and sugar-infused, costume party in America (Halloween). Ironically, the newsletter audience wasn’t too happy about me reminding them that happiness isn’t necessarily the ONLY purpose of living.
The reality is, over the course of 365 days, 12 months, 52 weeks, 24 hours — a lot happens. A lot of that stuff is good and a lot of that stuff is bad. All of that stuff is stuff and we have to choose how to deal with it. This is the game called life. We either play the game or we don’t.
This isn’t one of those games where you get to choose to play AND only have good things happen to you. It just doesn’t work like that.
A really great strategy for playing the game of life is to move through it with as much equanimity as possible regardless of what happens. That takes skill.
The practice of yoga can teach us some of those skills. This time of year is the perfect time of year to work on those skills as we move more and more towards the darkness (the Winter Solstice marks the darkest day of the year, at the same time that it’s a celebration of a return to lighter days ahead).
Part of the practice of yoga includes reflection or self-study (svadhyaya). What makes yoga unique though, is that it also highly prioritizes taking action (through selfless service, or Karma Yoga, or through engaging in the process of Kriya Yoga, which includes self-discipline, self-study, and surrender).
So, in the spirit of yoga, I encourage you to set aside some time on Thursday, or sometime this weekend, to consider the following questions. You may choose to do a little practice — feel free to choose from any of my videos on my YouTube Channel! You may choose to focus on your breath or try some meditation. You may choose to read something inspirational or something you’ve just really wanted to read for a while. Just spend some time doing something YOU want to do, and then take some time to reflect.
- What has happened in your life the past 3 months?
- Are you where you thought you would be?
- What have you accomplished since the beginning of July?
- Have your priorities changed? If so, how?
- What do you want to focus on for the next 3 months?
- What action do you need to take to make that happen?
- How have you progressed in your practice?
- What have you learned?
I’ve been reading this book called Daily Rituals that provides a glimpse of some of the rituals and routines kept by some of the world’s most prolific creatives, dead and alive, and a common theme among them is the time they take to reflect! It’s a necessary piece of being human and being productive.
My Seasonal Check-in
To get you inspired, here is a little glimpse at my answers to these questions:
In the past 3 months I’ve started a new job and re-comitted to figuring out where I want to go with my own business. I am not where I thought I would be because to be honest, three months ago I felt really lost and was living with a TON of uncertainty. I don’t think I even did a Seasonal Check-In in June. I had no idea where I was going to go. I was lacking motivation and direction, partly because that tends to be the nature of the summer season where we like to take a bit of a break, but also partly because of some things happening in my life that I’m unable to share at this time.
And yet, with everything going on, I’ve accomplished SO MUCH. Just the fact that I started a new job and spent some time really thinking about what I stand for as a yoga educator is huge. I spoke on a Self-Development Cruise for Women, re-developed and launched a program for Beginner’s at the yoga studio I work for and helped lead the newest round of Teacher Trainees in their first weekend of training. I’ve led other yoga-related trainings, celebrated my 1-year anniversary with my husband and travelled to Acadia National Park to soak in nature at its finest. My husband and I have also gained a lot more clarity around our plans moving forward with our lives.
Because of this I think our priorities have changed. For my Winter Solstice Seasonal Check-in last year, I set the following intentions for 2016: Expansion, Connection, Adventure, Abundance, Confidence, Self-Care. I’ve experienced a ton of expansion, connection, adventure, abundance, confidence, and self-care. I still gravitate towards those words, but I also am ready to commit to discipline, action, practice, and mastery. I’m ready to take the next step. I need these new intentions to take the next steps in my growth as an individual and for growth in my career.
I am starting with myself and my practice, re-commiting to a morning practice and ritual that will keep me grounded and inspired. I am adding in more pranayama, and studying the foundational texts of yoga. To make this happen, I’ve recently decided that I will wake up at 6am every morning even if I don’t have something until 9 or 10 or 11:00am that day. Of course, on the days when I have clients at 6:30am, I’ll wake up even earlier!
I’m also prepared to change certain things about my mindset. I’m ready to let go of my doubt. I’ve learned that I am resilient, that I have everything I need. I’ve known this all along, but now it’s time to believe it and live it.
Over the past month especially, I’ve really started to feel this shift. Whether it’s because of the season, the planets and stars, or because it’s finally my time to shine this year, I’m ready and prepared to face the obstacles ahead to get to where I want to, and know I can, be.
I hope you make the time to really celebrate how far you’ve come in the past 3 months and get excited about what’s ahead for you 🙂