Rites of Passage
As we enter the month of February, the transition from one state into another unfolds before our very eyes. Even as snow falls in some places of the United Kingdom and abroad, the snowdrops and primroses have popped up underfoot in Surrey. Like magic from one day to the next, what was barren is now full of hope; what seemed static now has a thread of movement, attracted towards things to come.
While we don’t see what lies underneath, quietly, steadily, the behind-the-scenes work of hypogeal germination has been at play. From Ancient Greek term hupógeios (below ground), this botanical process is used by Oak trees and sunflowers alike to use their time under ground to take root.
I can’t help but think that the past year has been an opportunity for each of us to germinate too. While we continue to stay in our homes, we may feel that we, and our lives are on pause. All the while though, we are all changing as time rolls along. When we re-emerge from this period, we will undoubtedly greet each other differently.
The name February comes from the word februum (purification) and februa, the rites or instruments used for purification. Rites of passage are important markers in the continuum of time.
Last month I wrote about liminality, the threshold of change that often presents one with a sense of instability or disorientation. It is the ephemeral place of being neither here nor there.
Despite the spring flowers erupting from below and the birds fervently preparing for their mating season above, February can feel like a no-mans-land in-between. Perhaps even more so this year, when we haven’t yet seen the light at the end of the Covid tunnel.
And whilst in the Covid tunnel, we continue to swim the river of life: uncertain, changing and unpredictable. While there are markers in time that serve to break up the flow and indicate change, just as a beaver’s den doesn’t cease the water from flowing, these don’t stop time itself or wholly change who we are. They are more like rites of passage as we journey onwards, wading, treading water, and paddling through depth and complexity, purpose and potential….and also through deep suffering.
And neither does Valentine’s Day, the pinnacle day for many in February, start or stop Love. Through all of the pain and sorrow that many have felt profoundly over this past year, love and its many possibilities, remain.
As magical as the process of germination, is the potential for love. More now than ever, we all need to reconnect with that feeling of deep affection for one another … but first and foremost, love begins with an affinity for oneself.
It seems so obvious, yet somehow so easy to forget, that without an understanding of self-compassion, the majestic early spring blossoms may appear in front of us, but we may miss their beauty.
So in this month of purification and love, here’s to removing toxic thoughts and self-destructive behaviour that may have embedded itself through the fear of the unknown. Here is to reminding yourself every day, ‘I Love You‘.
WHAT IS SELF COMPASSION?
AWARENESS Tending towards oneself in the midst of suffering
INQUIRY Asking ‘What do I need’ and ‘What else is there’ (that I might not see)
AGENT OF POSITIVE CHANGE Wishing for the very best and willfulness to take action (asking yourself, ‘What can I do’?)
Compassion is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, wishing the best for them, and acting on their behalf.
Too often, the inner critic prevents us from supporting and encouraging our self, creating insecurity that often leads us to judging others. Skillful practice is learning to sow the seeds of goodness at the heart of every intention, within ourselves and within the world.
Ultimately, yoga is the practice of dissolving the separation between ‘ourself’ and ‘other’, until there is only One.