Transitions

By Geoffrey Nimmer, September, 2007

Ah September, my favorite time of year. As a gardener and someone who works outside most of the time, I realize that I think that about each season.

In the spring, I am preparing the beds and planting. The sowing of seeds and ideas is so exciting. The summer months have their long days that I spend tending what I’ve sown; watering, feeding, and weeding, making space for everything to grow and come to fruition. The fall, with its shorter and cooler days, is when I can harvest what I’ve sown. To be honest, I don’t grow many vegetables, but I do enjoy the corn, tomatoes, melons, and other fruits and vegetables that are so bountiful during this time. I like the end of season work in my gardens, the cutting back, the taking stock of what was or was not successful. “Putting the gardens to bed.” I can almost feel the plants moving back to their roots, turning inward. They are moving towards a time of rest and quiet. Getting ready for the winter, when it seems that there is nothing there. Having tended the garden though, I know that something exists, beyond what was obvious during the season.

My work allows me to be so aware of change. I am reminded that everything in the physical world is always changing. Everything around us is in a state of transition.

The garden looks its best in the middle of summer. I wish it could stay just as it is, but it is going to change whether I want it to or not. And if it didn’t change, there would be no fruits to be harvested, there would be no time of rest, nor a new beginning in the spring.

In the Hindu calendar, the time from the end of August into the middle of September, is called Bhadapadra. During this month the elephant headed God Ganesh is celebrated. He is worshipped as the God of new beginnings and overcoming obstacles, the God of transitions.

I think it is important to note that Hinduism and Yoga are two separate concepts. Hinduism is a religion. Yoga is a science or a practice. We can draw inspiration from the Hindu religion for our Yoga practice.

So much has been written about Ganesh and what he represents. In the interest of saving time and space let me just say that his elephant head denotes wisdom and his trunk represents Om. The sound of Om- the sound of the Universe- is what I see manifested in my gardens, the inevitable changes, the constant evolving. There is a beginning, middle, and end, or an arising, an abiding, and a dissolving.

We can use our Asana practice as a way to develop a sense of this constant change. Each pose has a beginning, middle, and an end. And more important than the awareness of the change, is the ability to not be attached to the outcome. Change is going to happen whether we want it to or not.  We can practice just going with the flow.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali wrote much about non-attachment. He was referring to more than attachment to the physical body, but as we flow through an Asana class we can practice non-attachment. Arise, abide, dissolve, and just see what works. After all, it’s just a yoga pose.

All of our Asana practice leads up to the most important, and as defined by B.K.S. Iyengar in Light on Yoga, the most challenging pose-Savasana, final relaxation, corpse pose.

On a basic level, final relaxation can be a time to absorb the affects of your practice. Lie down, get comfortable, reap what you have sown.   Savasana represents more than that though. And this is the challenging part. Practicing complete non-attachment to what we think defines us. If we think of the Om cycle as having a beginning, middle and an end, in Savasana we are looking for the fourth part of the cycle, called Turiya. It is like my gardens when I put them to bed, it looks like there is nothing there. It is beyond outward appearances, it is outside of time and space.  It is a state of pure awareness, of transcendental consciousness.  This universal reality is the true fruit of our yoga practice.

Geoffrey Nimmer

In addition to running East End Garden Design, Geoffrey practices and teaches yoga in the Hamptons. Incorporating this spiritual practice into the business of garden design, he recognizes the connection between all living things and the world in which we live.

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