Living in Harmony with the Seasons: Season of Letting Go

the leaves believe such letting go is love

such love is faith

such faith is grace

such grace is god.

i agree with the leaves.

--Lucille Clifton

Dear Friends

This weekend, things here in MD seemed to shift.  Cool air and clouds moved in and it feels like the humid fruit laden late summer harvest season is coming to a close.      My yard, filled with big oaks, is now littered with the leaves that are starting to drop.

We have now entered Autumn--the season of letting go.  The trees let go of what is no longer essential, preparing for winter's rest.  The light is quickly disappearing.  What was once full is now emptying.  One by one, the perennials in my garden are turning brown and returning to the earth.  In groups big and small the birds are starting to leave.

This is the rhythm of life.  Everything must pass.  Its a law really.  Truth is every new beginning in spring starts with something that died or fell to the ground in the fall.  

I don't know about you, but I don't really love that idea.  I have a lot of resistance to letting go of anything that once had value to me.   I don't like that things have to die (either literally or figuratively) before we can begin again.  We live in a society that tells us that we should keep increasing, keep accumulating.  That we should never really have to let go of anything that once mattered.  That if we are clever, wise, smart or good enough we will never have to lose anyone or anything we care about.    Of course, deep down, we all know that it is not true but it is so easy to be seduced by the myths that tell us that life is one big upward spiral that when we are faced by the inevitable letting go it feels like highway robbery and we suffer.  

And yet, even as things pass, life is never truly empty.  The essential remains.  We may lose a loved one but the memory of their laughter lingers.  We may lose a job but the lessons we learned there and the experience we gained stay with us.  We may say goodbye to our tomato plants but we will have some canned or dried goodness to enjoy all year long.  The trees hold on to their branches, the perennials hold on to their roots and we can hold onto what is truly precious--even as life shifts, changes and we let go of the rest of it.

I have learned that the only way to truly let go  is to ultimately acknowledge all the gifts that person, time period, or thing gave us.  Often our resistance to let go stems from the fact we have never truly processed what it has given us--never said thank you or truly acknowledged how much we valued it.  Ironically, the best way to let something go is to love it fully.

Of course, the Chinese medical classics tell us that living well means embracing all the movements of life--including the letting go in Autumn.   The quieter, smaller more cozy way that Autumn calls us to be runs directly in contrast to the go-go-go Washington DC life many of us live!  We can get really sick at this time of year if we stand in resistance to slowing down in Autumn..  We can stay healthier in the fall and winter if we are able to go with the flow of this letting go time and if we too can embrace the practice of bringing our energy in, focusing it in on what matters most and letting go of anything that no longer is needed or serves us.   

So what does this mean on a practical level?  How can you move your qi this Autumn and stay in harmony with the seasons?

1.  Act like a tree and make a practice of letting go of whatever is no longer needed.  Clean out your closet.  Tackle the basement.    Sort through your office.  Practice letting go of whatever is not needed to create space for new things to grow.

2.  Recognize the value of what is in your life.  Whether you decide to put something in the "giveaway" pile or you move it to the keep pile, whether you are connected with someone or have let that person slip away, acknowledge the gifts you have received.  Say thank you to people, time periods and things that brought you joy or taught you important lessons.  

3.  Focus on the essential.  What in your life today is most precious?  Put your energy there.  Say no to anything that doesn't make that essential list.  Whether that is your family, career, or connections with friends, your health--see what happens when you allow that to come into crystal clear focus.  (What is essential need not be set in stone by the way!  It can shift from day to day--the key is allowing yourself to prioritize what you value most in the moment!)

Stay tuned this autumn for more hints on supporting yourself through the fall and winter months!    Autumn can be a hard time for many.  Some folks find that this is good time to come in for an acupuncture tune-up.  If you'd like to schedule an appointment you can reach out at 301-408-9873 or contact us here.  You also can book an appointment online here.