The Act of Leaving

There are some leaves that are nestled in the space in my car near the windshield wipers.  They’re dry and curled up now, but at some point they were bright green and more vibrant.  As I was driving today, I realized that they’ve been there for a while now.  I haven’t done anything about them or paid much attention to them until today.  I figured that they’d blow away in the wind when I was driving down the highway, but they didn’t.  That was surprising.  But perhaps the leaves had found a little niche (both literally and figuratively) and there was no reason for them to move.

Yes, I am personifying the leaves.  However, it got me to thinking that we are often a lot like those leaves.  We get so caught up in some old place, some old pattern, which doesn’t serve us.  At some point, we may reach the realization that this mode of operating is not for our highest good. Others may have realized it long before we did. Yet, we’re often reluctant to do so.  One of the things that people fear most is change.  Even when it’s what they need most.  We get so habituated to certain modes of being that we can’t think outside the box and imagine what it would be like to do something else, to be somewhere else, to think differently, or to react differently.  We have trained our minds and bodies to accept the present reality.  
We’ve developed a routine and we don’t want to change it.  With routine, it’s all predictable.  We have a given set of parameters from which we operate our daily life.  We know where we “fit” and we know where everything “goes”.   If we were to change that, then there’d be a lot of unknowns.

photo courtesy of

When we contemplate a move to a new place, or actually do re-locate, there’s a lot that goes into the process besides from packing, moving, finding a place to live and all the logistical details. We ponder who we know there, perhaps if there is a local meditation center there that is part of our spiritual path, if there is a local chapter of a society that we belong to, what is the age and background of our future neighbors and/or co-workers.   So many factors to weigh. Ultimately, we want to know if we will fit in, if we will be comfortable, if we can regain that same feeling of security that we now have.

In Ayurveda, there is vata dosha, the principle of movement.  It governs everything that moves in our body, from our respiration to our physical activity.  Movement is necessary, but then excess movement can imbalance us greatly.   Surely, you know the person who is constantly changing their jobs/ relationships/ hair/ wardrobe/ furniture/ spiritual path/ apartment, etc.  These people have a challenge with maintaining any sort of routine, often to their detriment.  Excess vata imbalances can result in excess dryness in the body, cracking popping of the joints, constipation, undue anxiety and fear, and an array of other physical and psychological issues. There are methods to treat vata imbalances, but to keep vata pacified requires self-effort.  Essentially, it requires the individual to change.  And while these individuals thrive on change, they often resist changing their habits. So the cycle continues.

From the viewpoint of Vedic astrology, we can predict times that a person will move or at least contemplate a move.  There is, of course, free at play, but the karmic forces are fairly strong.  When things get set in motion that require a move, i.e. new job, relocation for work on part of the individual or spouse,family situation,etc., then our old patterns resurface and we resist this change.  People often ask me if they should move.  What will the new job be like?  Will this move help them find love?  There’s often a pre-conditioning that has already taken place before anything has even occurred.  Fear, anxiety, worries set in.  What the move may actually be meant to do is to shake up out of our habitual patterns and to begin a new chapter of our lives.  Yet, we resist and resist and the fear persists.  When we can look at the situation with a fresh pair of eyes, then we see the situation in another light and what it can truly offer.

Once we get to the new location, we often re-think our decision.  Perhaps we shouldn’t have made this move.  Maybe we should just head home again. And those that actually make the move back at some point are often in for a surprise. They realize that while you can go home again, and home is where the heart is, it’s not the same home that you left and yearned to return to.  You realize that everyone has moved on with their lives and the memories that you had frozen in your mind are only that – memories.  People have made new friends, developed other interests, had more kids, changed jobs, etc.  While they’re thrilled you’re back, it’s not entirely possible to regain that same routine again. And then, you realize that you’re not the same person who left.  You’ve evolved and changed along the journey.  What used to enthrall you no longer does to the same degree.  Hadn’t thought of that before, huh?

The way out often lies in being flexible, going with the flow, being open to new experiences and all those other clichés.  What has to happen so that you can achieve some peace of mind is seeing this as part of our spiritual growth, looking objectively at what has transpired, and what you’d like to achieve.  What contribution or mark do you want to make in this world?  How long do you want to linger on what has been or could have been or should have been? How about embracing the present moment and all that it has to offer?