Winter’s Gift

Winter’s Gift

“When we are attentive to our actions we are not prisoners to our habits; we do not need to do something today simply because we did it yesterday. Instead there is the possibility of considering our actions fresh and so avoiding thoughtless repetition.”

    …TKV Desikachar

Winter scene
 

As we move toward the winter solstice, we can bring our awareness to the messages of the coming season. The deciduous trees have let go of their leaves so they can husband their life-sustaining resources. Most perennial plants have died back to the ground in a time of dormancy. Ground hogs, rabbits, and chipmunks hibernate or reduce activity to conserve their heat, food, and water. We, humans, dress warmly to go outside, heat our homes, nourish ourselves with warming, heavier foods, and perhaps rest and sleep longer encouraged by the increasing hours of darkness. Warmth and energy are to be conserved this time of year, whether you are a maple, a lily, a groundhog, or a person.

Along with the cold that all life must pay attention to in winter, there is also a stillness that can feel quiet and reflective. This quiet energy calls to that same energy within each of us. That is why I look forward to winter. It is a time of reflection.

As TKV Desikachar’s quote above reminds us, it is easy to slide into activities that we perform out of habit. They may be things we think about as “being what I have always done.” Or we may think that they are things expected of us, so we just do them. Yet, our days can become filled with activities whose usefulness and appropriateness to our time of life has faded. Or, they may be activities that have become so habitual that we do them mindlessly, so at the end of a day, it may be hard to recall where we have spent out time.

The quiet space winter offers can be a call to reflect upon “our actions.” We can examine what may have become part of our life just out of habit. We can ask ourselves what activities or commitments may no longer serve us or fit our stage of life? What changes might we make to live more intentionally and in keeping with what is most important to us?

Dharma is a concept in yoga that refers to personal responsibilities. Thinking about our dharma means to be aware of our own unique nature, our roles, duties and responsibilities to ourselves and society. For example, I have the dharma of a teacher. I also have the dharma of a wife, a mother, and grandmother. In terms of societal dharma, I have the dharma of a citizen in a representative democracy. For me, I need to look at what these mean in my life as a woman of 70 years. What are my responsibilities, and what are the actions/activities I want to have in my life? How do I balance these responsibilities?

The answer, according to my teacher Fran Ubertini, to whether we are on the right track is how we feel. We know we are in the right dharma because our “heart is content.” We are acting from a calm and focused mind.

Yes, I look forward to winter. I see it as a gift, providing space to reflect on the choices I am making. It is an opportunity to apply Desikachar’s advice to my actions and activities “fresh” and consider whether they are in keeping with my dharma. Winter may look like a fallow time, but it also may be an opportunity to plant seeds that will grow and blossom.

Winter Solstice Yoga

Winter Solstice image

 
Friday, December 21, 2018
5:45 pm – 7:30 pm
TMC Wellness through Movement
2134 N. 2nd St.
Harrisburg, PA

Event by donation to support the Harrisburg Peace Garden

December, more than most any month, can go one of two ways. One is all tangled, all covered with bramble. You can get lost, what with all of the noise and all of the bright colored lights. But December, if you choose, if you allow it, can be the trail through the woods that leads to light, far off in the distance.

Join us to celebrate the winter solstice with yoga by candlelight in a practice of movement, breath, chant and meditation.
Class taught by Elizabeth Terry

Please reserve your spot by June 20th:
Elizabeth Terry eterryyoga@gmail.com or (717) 645-0067

 

Event Flyer
The Movement Center website

 

Fall Foliage Yoga

Fall foliage

 
Come Celbrate Autumn’s Beauty
Led by Elizabeth Terry

 
Saturday, November 3, 2018
Loaves and Fishes Farm
1810 York Road, Dover PA 17315

Yoga from 10:00-11:30am. Light lunch and fun to follow!

Give yourself a day to be refreshed, nourished, and shared with a supportive, uplifting community. Bring your yoga mat, walking shoes and farm friendly clothes for yoga and checking out the goats and newest calves, petting donkeys, visiting the sheep, hugging chickens and enjoying the fall foliage at the farm.

Yoga practice will be outside, if weather permits, inside if there is rain or cold. A free will offering will be accepted to support the work of Loaves and Fishes Farms.

Please reserve your spot by October 30th:
Elizabeth Terry eterryyoga@gmail.com or (717) 645-0067

 
For more info on the farm, check out their Facebook page – Facebook.com/LoavesAndFishesFarm or contact:
Farmer Jen Briggs jenbriggs@comcast.net or (717) 774-0794
Farmer Bonnie McCann bonniejmccann@comcast.net or (717) 319-7721

When you become part of the Loaves and Fishes Farms’ family, you join us in our commitment to grow and eat healthy food that replenishes the soil and protects air and water.”

 
Directions (from Harrisburg area)

Interstate 83 south to the Yocumtown Exit. At Light make a left and then an immediate Right on to Taylor Road. Follow that road for about 3.5 miles. You will cross over Rt. 382 (Lewisberry Road) which then becomes York Road, this is curvy and you will pass the Susquehanna Speedway and the farmer market on your left and you will pass a church and school on your right. The Loaves and Fishes Farm is on the corner of Red Bank and York Road. It is a white house with green shutters – the kitchen is in the garage (doesn’t everyone have a kitchen in the garage?)

1810 York Road
Dover, Pa 17315

Event Flyer

Heating with Wood

wood pile
 

About a month ago the woodman arrived a little before 8 am on Saturday and dumped two cord of wood in our driveway – the first load of two or three more cord to come. If you have no idea the size of a pile of two cord of wood, let me tell you, it is really a lot.

I was stunned when I first saw it. I knew when I saw it that I would be working with my husband to schlep wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of wood across our backyard and down beside our house, unloading and stacking it carefully in preparation for the cold to come months later.

My husband could not do this alone. It would be too much. Besides, we both enjoy the warmth the wood provides, as do our cats. I knew, unfortunately, what I would be doing in the July heat!

Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra describes the yoga of action, called kriya yoga. Kriya yoga has three components: tapas, a new behavior, often challenging, creating heat not just in the body but also in the mind as the change in behavior must be conscious and deliberate; svadhyaya, self-reflection, noticing the effects of our new behavior and making changes as required; isvara pranidhana, focusing on the quality of our actions rather than on the imagined result.

In all honesty, I never liked loading, schlepping, and stacking wood. In the past my mind resisted this work, usually resenting every minute of it. But here it was again requiring behavior beyond my usual activities, beyond the demands I usually place upon my body. But this year was different. I surrendered to it.

First of all, we made some agreements that acknowledged our physical limitations. We didn’t work on the woodpile every day, but we did work on it consistently over three weeks. We decided to spend 30 minutes each time doing the loading, schlepping, and stacking, and then clean up the detritus left in the driveway. We tried to avoid the hottest days, but there were a few. In the process of this work, I began to see that this was a kind of yoga practice for me, a kind of kriya yoga.

While the work required a change in my usual physical behavior, the change in my attitude toward the project also constituted my tapas. Some days I did not really want to “do wood,” but I would start, focusing on what we needed to do, and doing it. It was ok. I practiced svadhyaya in observing not only my mind but my body. I reminded my self to keep my back upright without leaning forward and to bend my knees while carting the wood in the wheelbarrow. I limited the weight of the loads. I made sure to do yoga postures to care for my back. And, I realized that I was focusing on my actions, my work, doing it to the best of my ability, and taking pleasure what each day accomplished. The bigger picture for me was being able to see how changing my attitude, recognizing and adapting to my limitations, and just focusing on the quality of my action could change my entire experience.

Some of the most profound changes for the better that we make are yoga that does not take place on the yoga mat. It is about seeing clearly enough to move away from behaviors and attitudes creating suffering and limiting our lives. It is moving what is positive. Yoga teachings and yoga, itself, are about life, and available to anyone interested in practicing and changing.

Spring Yoga at Loaves & Fishes Farm

Spring Yoga at Loaves & Fishes Farm

Spring Yoga Farm imageCome Celebrate Spring’s Beauty
Led by Elizabeth Terry

Saturday, April 14, 2018
Loaves and Fishes Farm
1810 York Road, Dover PA 17315

Yoga from 10:00-11:30am. Light lunch and fun to follow!

If the weather cooperates, we will be outside for yoga, if not, inside. Bring your yoga mat, walking shoes and farm friendly clothes so you can visit the newest members of the Farm. A free will offering will be accepted to support the work of Loaves and Fishes.

Please reserve your spot by April 11th:
Elizabeth Terry eterryyoga@gmail.com or (717) 645-0067

For more info on the farm, check out their Facebook page – Facebook.com/LoavesAndFishesFarm or contact:
Farmer Jen Briggs jenbriggs@comcast.net or (717) 774-0794
Farmer Bonnie McCann bonniejmccann@comcast.net or (717) 319-7721

When you become part of the Loaves and Fishes Farms’ family, you join us in our commitment to grow and eat healthy food that replenishes the soil and protects air and water.”

 
Directions (from Harrisburg area)

Interstate 83 south to the Yocumtown Exit. At Light make a left and then an immediate Right on to Taylor Road. Follow that road for about 3.5 miles. You will cross over Rt. 382 (Lewisberry Road) which then becomes York Road, this is curvy and you will pass the Susquehanna Speedway and the farmer market on your left and you will pass a church and school on your right. The Loaves and Fishes Farm is on the corner of Red Bank and York Road. It is a white house with green shutters – the kitchen is in the garage (doesn’t everyone have a kitchen in the garage?)

1810 York Road
Dover, PA 17315

Event Flyer

February 15

February 15

Outdoor imageToday I walked up the lane behind our house and climbed three stone steps placed by our neighbors to easily reach a walking path. When I left the house, the thermometer read 59 degrees. While I walked, great patches of blue among the clouds opened. The sunlight warmed my face and body to the point I unzipped the light jacket I had worn.

Now, as I sit at my desk, clouds have started to roll in, dimming the sunlight. Still, I think the hackberry, maple and sycamore trees behind the house, bare as they are, must be relishing this light and warmth. Perhaps the buds at the tip of each branch might swell just infinitesimally with hope.

February is taking pity on us, I believe, offering up a taste of spring, reminding us that even though cold and snowy days may come, days like this will follow, sooner or later.

This day filled me with joy. My yoga teacher tells me that this stage of life – you know the wise woman and man stage – is about joy, doing the things that bring us joy. It has taken me a long time to embrace this notion without feeling guilty. But more and more I find moments that offer me this gift.

Frequently birds are involved. Like the morning a flock – yes – an entire flock of bluebirds landed in the front yard to eat suet. And, another morning when a pileated woodpecker landed on the suet feeder to eat breakfast. Usually, like the bird examples, it is something simple that evokes that feeling of joy for me. Simple things like teaching my wise women yoga class; making a salad that looks beautiful as well as tasting delicious; having tea with my husband and cats (they don’t drink tea) as we sit in front of a fire in our wood stove. AND, being able to get up in the morning to do my yoga practice.

Doing my practice over many years has set me up to be open to the moments in which I find joy. Yoga practice is time set apart on a regular basis to develop attention and focus, to see myself, my priorities, and relationships more clearly, and to grow in my spiritual life. My yoga practice inspires me to enter my daily activities with greater awareness, care, patience, and joy.

Perhaps we are given winter here in the north just to remind us to pay attention and to relish spring.

A Season of Change

In seasons of deep transformation, silence will be your greatest guide.”
      …Shauna Niequist in Present Over Perfect

Change of Season imageWe clearly see the physical transformation of living things around us in the fall. Deciduous trees are among the most visible of autumn’s shapeshifters. Their cloaks of green transform to yellow or orange or red or burgundys and russets. And when the trees are ready, sensing the shortening hours of light and feeling the cooler temperatures, the transfer of water to each leaf and food from the leaves ceases. The trees surrender their leaves to the earth.

We notice too a change in the air. Coolness descends in the late afternoon and lingers into the next morning. Squirrels work diligently to fill their larders for winter. The insect voices so characteristic of hot August evenings diminish. The evening is quieter here along the Conodoguinet now.

I, too, find myself thinking I am in a time of transition. Over the years I have seen how my yoga practices have helped me to open to risk and change. I tried new things: teaching a new class and workshops as well as letting go of classes; taking on the study of Vedic Chant; attending church; trying a different strategy to deal with anxiety and depression; deciding I needed to live more completely in sync with my values. For all of this, yoga and the support of my teacher have given me guidance and courage.

Now, I feel again in a place of change, hoping to be more fully present in my relationships, to deepen my learning and teaching of yoga, to work on what I can do to live in harmony with Mother Earth, and to find joy in living each day. Focusing on these priorities requires paring back some activities and maintaining more white space on my calendar. Simply, but not simple, is the need to give myself more space. Like the trees in this fall season, I have to let go of some things to nourish other things, including myself and those closest to me.

What will sustain me in this time of transformation will be my yoga practice, my communities of support, and the quiet in which I can hear the leanings of the spirit.

I wonder how many others of you are feeling the same draw to transition in your lives. If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to email or call me. You may find, as I did, that this is a journey that needs a community of support.