Perhaps by the time you are reading this it finally feels like spring outside. I’m writing early in the last week of March, and it’s still decidedly winter-like. There’s no snow, sleet or hail today, but when I went out this morning for my walk with Padma, I was again in full winter kit, complete with hat and gloves. The calendar says Spring. Heading into April means spring. All of my senses are saying NO, this is not the season for furry caps, wool gloves, tall socks and occasional snow flakes. This is the season for mild breezes, beautiful blossoms, the shedding of layers, the coming of new life! It will come, I know it will. But in its own time. Such a great reminder.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of seasons. We are cyclical beings. And like the planet, I believe that we also have seasons. They often do not correspond to the weather outside or the month of the year, but in some ways do mirror nature.

Winter: The time of hibernation, reflection, pulling in. Whether it’s simply part of a larger rhythm, or a response to harrowing external conditions, there are times in our lives when what’s called for is digging a hole, making a soft nest, and folding into child’s pose for the duration. Sometimes we are waiting out a storm, and other times we just need to reset to a slower and more mindful pace.

Spring: The time of new life, inspiration, regeneration, connection. While it is possible to generate our own seasons of spring, many times, spring comes to us as the result of some kind of auspicious collision. Meeting someone new, the arrival of an opportunity, beginning a new chapter in a relationship or at work; newness frequently “springs” itself upon us, whether we are prepared or not. There’s often a lot of work to be done in Spring, and it sets the stage for the creation of what is next.

Summer: The time of play, adventure, vitality. We might consider our seasons ofsSummer as peak times in life when it’s less work and more play; when we can look back at a job well done, and put our feet up and feel the literal and metaphorical sun on our faces. We cannot stay forever, and if we were to try, we’d end up with a terrible sunburn. So our task is to receive our seasons of summer with open-handed joy and allow them to move through us and beyond without grasping.

Fall: The time of letting go, the end of a cycle, closure, taking stock, counting blessings. It would be very easy to think of these personal seasons as sad times, but autumn in nature is also one of the most strikingly beautiful — even though things are dying and falling away. It seems a good reminder when Fall arrives in our lives to look around for the beauty amidst the sadness of letting go. Perhaps it’s the reason that gratitude and fall go hand in hand. In all of life — especially in the fall — we hold both sides of duality: life and death, beauty and sorrow. In all of life we find lessons.

One of the trickiest things I’ve found in navigating my own seasons is that they often do not follow the same course that they do in nature: quiet reflection to new life to celebration to gathering our resources. That order makes sense to me and it feels right. It also feels appropriate for them to be of approximate equal length. But this sensibility exists only in my mind and not at all the reality of my personal seasons. They do not go in order. They are not running on a timeline (or if they are, it is decidedly not of my making). But recognizing what season I am in at any given moment has been invaluable in figuring out how to approach my days.

What we need in each season is individual, and letting go of expectation is a powerful first step in moving through a season with greater ease. My recent shift from a very long spring into winter (instead of summer) was not only not a choice, but it was not welcome. Much like the hail storm in March, I felt cheated of my summer — of my time to rest, play and enjoy. That attitude does not help my plight. So, for the past couple of weeks I have been (begrudgingly) accepting my lot and doing a lot of extra savasana. I’m putting in more bolster time than feels “right” for “spring” and taking advantage of ample opportunities for reflection on the ever-critical voices in my head. The best medicine, whether or not I choose to take it, is an extra, regular dose of compassion. But then, that’s good for any season.

In what season do you find yourself right now? Not just today, but in these recent weeks or months? Are you honoring that and is there anything you could do to more fully embrace this temporary energy pattern? Sometimes even the simple acknowledgement of a moment’s impermanence is a powerful motivator/salve to move through the season of now with grace.