Spring – Mind: Growth, curiosity, play, creativity
Summer – Heart: Connection, enjoyment, sincerity
Autumn – Body: Cutting away what needs to die, destruction, protection
Winter – Soul: Journeying deeply in, darkness, visioning
One of the problems is that people typically only operate in one or two of the seasons. They have learnt certain ways of being and try to apply it to everything in life.
Through awakening we can learn to operate more freely in the different parts. We are rewiring our systems to be more open to the different parts of us, which gives us more freedom in how we respond to something.
We get stuck using a limited model of the world, which causes us pain and for us to tie ourselves in knots, because we can’t respond to a situation in the most effective way.
Developing our capacity for compassionate presence, means that we can connect more openly with a wider range of experience.
Most modern cultures, including Western Capitalism and a lot of spiritual practice, focus heavily on Spring and Summer. We are trying to create a world where everything is always growing and feeling good.
Autumn and Winter, in comparison, don’t get a much air time. People are terrible at saying no and getting rid of stuff that doesn’t serve them anymore. We very rarely have deep hibernating rest and the kind of deep visioning and thinking that arises from the Winter state. We are too busy doing new stuff and ‘being productive’. We are expected to be always on.
We increase our ability to be in a wider range of seasons by breaking through the barriers and limitations that are keeping us in the fixed way of being and looking.
One of my favourite mantras is,
‘Burn down the barn, so you can see the moon’
I am a huge believer in cutting away the things in life that aren’t serving us any more. In order to be able to do this in a clean, compassionate way this has taken a huge amount of integrating shadows. Clean anger and ability to say no requires us to be really clear about how we feel about things and be able to be present with that without creating projections or judgements.
It also requires integrating the shadows around people not liking you being in that mode of being. It is my experience that people do not like this destructive way of being. They get very strong emotional reactions that they are unable to hold and are likely to turn this into judgements about you. To avoid getting into a double bind you have to be able to give people the freedom to react badly to your way of being.
I am also a huge believer in deep rest and introspection. Taking time to really listen to what is coming through in your inner world. Cutting out hours of the day dedicated to reflection and attuning with ourselves – not with any expectation of what state we should be in or something we should be achieving (a lot of meditation practice is actually Spring and Summer) – but with a radical sense of being willing to be present with whatever is there.
Bringing this back into balance – cultivating more ability to be in the Autumn and Winter modes – feels vital for both individual and planetary wellbeing. I believe that it is the key to a better future for everyone.
My practice guides and true nature framework allow you to feel into these different aspects and open up parts of yourself.
An example of these different ways of being can be shown through a simple meditation instruction.
The classic instruction of ‘letting go’ can mean completely different things from each of the different ways of being.
Spring – Mind: Letting go of the controlling mind and allowing ourselves to be open, curious and playful
Summer – Heart: Letting go of ideas of right and wrong and connecting with the emotional reality of what is here, whatever that is
Autumn – Body: Recognising what needs to be let go of and doing what needs to be done to allow it to pass through or remove it from the system
Winter – Soul: Allowing ourselves to express what letting go of something means to us and feeling the feels related to that
None of these is a better or worse way to let go of things, it just depends on the context and scenario that you find yourself in. And what is important is increasing the capacity so that we are able to act in wise and skilful ways for the benefit of us and others in a wider range of circumstances.
Narcissism and Power
One of the reasons this is so challenging is because our hearts is where we are connected to each other.
If we are in relationship with people who refuse to operate in this way – who keep their hearts closed and insist that the way they see things (which comes from the mind) is correct – then this system doesn’t really function.
Then it becomes the person who has the most power who can dictate to others what is true and real, rather than each person having the freedom to express what is inside of them and connecting with it.
We get into a narcissistic worldview when we believe it is not safe to express what is inside of us.
Operating from the heart takes courage – we have to be willing to risk being seen – it also requires a degree of safety. If our feelings are dismissed by those around us, then we won’t feel the connection we need to be present.
We have to choose between adopting the other person’s perspective or standing in our own truth and having that rejected. It’s a lose-lose situation for those who have less power. This is why recognising the subtle narcissism that plays out through a lot of spiritual teachings in vitally important to creating a more free and equal world.
Sympathetic joy, or dark joy, is the way to beat this system. We consciously allow ourselves to be the loser in an open and spacious way, in order to be able to speak our truth and let people think whatever they think. We embody and embrace this whole-heartedly, and feel all the feels that that brings up without turning that into projections and judgements about the other people. I call this dancing with the devil.
It’s an incredibly hard thing to awaken, but it creates a huge amount of force behind your being because you aren’t reliant on other people’s opinion of you in order to speak to your truth.