by Nancy Alder
My house is surrounded by woods filled with trees of countless varieties. We live in a four season state, where everything transitions along with nature. Because of that fact many people here are saddened at the end of summer because it signals the beginning of cold weather. Unlike them I treasure the shift to fall.
For me, autumn is a time of vastness and release. The woods we call home open up in an artist’s palate of colors ranging from reds, to yellow to deep burnt orange. As the leaves are dying they are making the forest come visually alive. After these jewels of nature fall from the trees we can once again look into the woods to see all it contains. We remember the brook that runs from one town to the next. We see the moss and lichens. We look for deer and fisher cats and can see shadows of owls in the tree tops.
Suddenly there is so much space to behold where it once was filled with green.
Motherhood often feels like spring and summer: frenzied activities, life, sounds and fullness. Each day is packed with potential and sunshine, laughter and children. While the schedule may be less structured, the fullness is palpable in terms of time and sound. Life with children is replete with action, sounds and attention and it can be hard to see deep into the heart of ourselves.
There are few moments in motherhood which contain the space and release of autumn. Maybe that is why I appreciate hearing the crisp crunch of leaves and the broad open expanses of my woods. These are qualities I long for in my life in the home by the trees. Moments of stillness and space, where the only sounds are of the refrigerator humming or the wind chime outside ringing, are rare jewels in the experience of motherhood.
When I feel like my role as a mom is an eternal summer, I return to my meditation cushion or my yoga mat and find the spaciousness in my body and breath. I linger at the bottom of exhales and explore all that exists in that cavernous location. I pause to meditate, turning off my phone and tuning out the washing machine so that the only sounds I hear are the voice in my head and the breath in my body. I stretch to the sides in yoga poses like the trees in my yard move with the wind. I feel lightness that I imagine is not unlike what those newly shorn forest dwellers feel as they drop the weight of the leaves they have supported all green season.
The writer Karen Maezen Miller says, “The life of a mother is the life of a child: you are two blossoms on a single branch.” We share our space, our oxygen and the requirements for survival and happiness with our children. They are like the leaves on the trees in my woods: giving us color and sustenance and yet weighing us down and filling our spaces. In order to find that balance between the heaviness of our responsibilities and life with our children, and the freedom and vastness of branchless trees, we need to utilize tools to create that space for ourselves. We have to return to the woods of our bodies, breath and minds. Breathing in vastness, creating space for silence and nourishing our trees with stillness.
In doing so we can be like the enchanted forest at my house which successfully sprouts green leaves again in the spring, renewed and full of energy to support their growth. We need to invite in the nurturing expanse and space for our own inner woods.
About Nancy Alder
YOGI + MOTHER
Nancy Alder is a mom to elves, a yoga teacher and writer in Connecticut. She is a New York editor for Mantra Magazine and writes about the alchemy of yoga, mysticism and motherhood at her site Flying Yogini. She is co-creatrix of the eight limb // life a course in finding your yoga off the mat and everywhere. When not teaching or writing about yoga she explores the enchanted woods with her elves and counts the days until the next snowfall.