Leaning into the Fall

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Being outside on a beautiful autumn day always inspires me.  There is something about the golden light, the changing leaves that almost has me weep in awe.   The beauty!   Being outside among the trees reminds me of being in a cathedral.  

This is a transition time—the space between the bustling, leafy-green riot of summer and the still, quiet restorative space of winter.  On a day like today, gentle and sunny, I am soaking in the last precious bits of sunshine and letting the sun nourish me before the days become increasingly dark, rainy and cold.  And yet, on those rainy days I find myself equally grateful, looking forward to building a fire and staying home, curling up with a blanket and cup of tea, going inward for a different kind of nourishment.    There is a kind of a dance going on now between the yin (dark rainy days) and yang (light, sunny ones) now.  That balance is part of the energy of autumn.  

Look outside and you will see that the autumn is a time when nature gets down to the bare essentials.  Everything is slowing down, preparing to rest in the winter.  The trees let go of their leaves, pulling their energy inward to prepare for winter’s rest.  But first there is that glorious awe inspiring show—the brilliant blue sky, the scarlet and yellow leaves, the orange pumpkins and gourds—like precious drops of sunshine to get us through the dark days ahead.  

The Chinese medical classic the Su Wen, reminds us that wellness can be found by following the rhythms of nature.  We can find balance, health and wellness  inside by listening to Mother Earth’s wisdom.  We can look outside for instructions in how to create more balance and flow in our own lives.  Like the trees, we are called to shed what we no longer need and to take notice of the simple beauty and elegance that then arises.

How to Live in Harmony with The Fall:

1.     Declutter and release.  Let go of all the extra stuff that you don’t need, give yourself more space to breath and get down to what is essential.  Start with a closet or a drawer or maybe get inspired by this little book.  

2.     Take a deep breath.   Take a few minutes out of each day to sit and breathe deeply.  This is a wonderful time of year to try a meditation program and there are many wonderful apps to get you started.  Headspace offers a wonderful subscription program to teach you to meditate.  Other phone apps such as Calm or Insight Timer offer free meditations.   Even just a practice of 5 deep breaths several times a day will wonders to reset and give your brain a little space.

3.     Offer (and accept)acknowledgement.  Very often as we finish up something in life, we are too quick to rush on to the next thing.  The autumn reminds us to slow down and say thank you.  Offer appreciation for what mattered to you today-maybe even share the specifics.  As my teacher Bob Duggan would always say, "None of us gets enough acknowledgment".  If someone offers you acknowledgement, don’t just brush it away with a “no problem!”.  Allow it to sink in, nourish you.  Notice how you feel when you complete the project by offering or accepting acknowledgment.  

4.    Connect to something bigger than yourself.  The magnificence in autumn that takes our breath away reminds us that we are part of something so much bigger, something almost sacred.  Where is your church?  It doesn’t have to be a house of worship—maybe it is art, poetry, nature or a community of likeminded people working together.    Spend time in your own personal "church".

5.    Slow down.   Create some mental space for yourself.  Go for a walk and enjoy the outside.   Curl up with a book.  Schedule space to unwind in an otherwise cluttered or active day.  Notice how you feel after taking the break.

Poetry is perfect in every season but somehow, in this season, it feels even more perfect.  Here is one of my favorites for the fall.

Autumn

 by Rainer Marie Rilke

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.