Ways of Knowing

The birds that nest year-round in my neighborhood seem especially disoriented this morning. And why shouldn’t they be? Daytime temperatures in western Wisconsin have hovered just below 40 degrees for the past two weeks, with sweet sun showers powerful enough to warm us right to our bones. This had been a most welcome contrast to the parade of subzero temperatures that shrouded the preceding holiday season, nudging us indoors with our loved ones and coziest traditions. So now, with our pristine sidewalks, displaced winter gear and freshly washed cars, there is an air of grief as we prepare for the incoming winter storm.  Resistance seems natural as I feel the northern winds blow in and watch the first inches of snow fall to the earth. And while I believe those antsy little birds undoubtedly held more foresight than I about what this day had in store for us (smart phone weather apps and all), I suspect that they can also be my greatest allies in navigating such seasonal fluctuations. Noticing them stir in the first light of today, I began to prepare myself for what was to come, resigning to a day of shelter from the storm. And as I currently relish in the warmth of my abode, I am reminded, how amazing it is, the ways in which simple observations can pave the way to the most profound of insights.  I am most grateful for the subtle mirror nature is ever-providing, as well as the ways in which it may pave our own personal path to wellness and balance.

I have always loved learning.  I was one of those kids that loved going to school and never really minded even the most mundane of busywork tasks. Taking longhand notes? Writing pre-formatted book reports? Filling up pages and pages of worksheets? What an amazing way for this little Taurean child to feel both productive and accomplished! It was not until my post-secondary education that I became aware of the static nature of my learning style. I had most definitely thrived in the “memorize and regurgitate” setting of my early education, but came up against many new challenges as a young adult. Suddenly, I was being asked to think critically, to develop argument/discussion, to innovate, and to question much of the information that had been spoon-fed to me prior. I floundered and resisted – it was so much easier to hold onto concrete ideas or facts that had been deposited by some ‘other’. Yet, this easy way of knowing continued to let me down…it did not help me make sense of the same phenomena in life that was beginning to captivate me with age – you know, the big “whys” and “hows”. This tendency to default to the comfortable textbook ways of holding information has continually shown up in the patterns I identify in myself, well into my mid-thirties – the same patterns I am bound and determined to disrupt…to de-crystallize!

In some beautiful organic unfolding, new ways of knowing have continually crept into my being…thanks to countless events and influences, no doubt. Of these, my yoga continues to be the most consistent of teachers. Yoga asks me to be present, despite the seeming comforts of knowing and ‘getting’ the past. It begs the question “What is?”, leaving all of the “What ifs?” behind in a trail of conscious dust. Yoga, as I understand it, offers us the tools to excavate our own insights, which as it turns out, are infinite in nature. As with any discipline, you can study, devote and work toward becoming a master…though I am not quite sure I understand what mastership would look like, if I am being totally honest. Nor is that the goal that I preoccupy my days with.  As it turns out, I’m happy just to be sharpening my tools. So…what tools? What exactly am I talking about? This brings me back to the birds outside my door this morning…full circle. One of the greatest tools I am honing is the ability to observe what is, allowing insight to shine from the most unexpected of places.  Notice the anxious birds, notice one’s own internal state – find insight and strive to make peace with the correlations. Let the animals set example. Let the trees whisper sweet advice. Let the river wind and show you the many ways to flow. And at the most basic level, let your Self be mirrored in everything around you – in all of its glorious and subtle complexities.

So I guess that is why I am here today…I am hoping to record and share my seasonal navigations with you, right here on the Wildfire Wellness blog. With the guidance of fellow yogis and Ayurvedic practitioners, and framed by the colors of my own personal experiences, I want to develop the type of knowledge that is perhaps a bit less valued in the West. Together, I want us to explore how nature affects us, how it guides our journey toward homeostasis (or balance), and most importantly, how nature is not separate from us or this journey we are on.  I am intending to write monthly blogs here, starting with this month, that are informed by the Ayurvedic wisdom developed over thousands of years and transformed into something that is practical here and now.  I want this to be a place where I can share my observations, gather yours, and weave them into a beautiful wellness-inspired tapestry, a collective way of knowing. Thank you for being here and cheers to always growing!

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