Nature extends her annual autumn invitation to slow down, to let go. Not only that, but she shows us how….
As I walk the forest path in autumn’s softer light, I am framed by a cathedral of sloping arches, heavy with the red of star-shaped Maple leaves. The cooling, shifting, seasonal winds sift and sort through the trees in a gentle sway-dance. The trees gracefully follow the dance by releasing leaves in swirling, spiral falls that carpet the ground in a mosaic, like a warm blanket that beckons to rest. They let go with elegance, beauty, and grace. The great Sufi poet Rumi encourages, “Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.”
I don’t want to miss this – the grand finale, the final extravaganza, as though Mother Nature has saved up for this show all year. I want to be present for this slow-fade, this saunter toward hibernation.
This is the season in which we can exhale. It beckons for us to notice, both the grand and the small. To slow down and become present. There is a tenderness in the right now, in this space between the long-light of summer and the long-shadow of winter.
It is time to take stock, harvest the bounty of spring and summer’s work. The air seems clearer now. I can pause from the blurry time-speed of summer and slow down to really see. Not just with my eyes, but with my whole being.
I can learn from Mother Nature’s autumn teaching about how beautiful it is to let go. As the leaves drop, I ponder where I, too, can let go and become lighter. What does not serve at this time, and what can be released? Where can I free up space to allow only for that which I truly value? This is the time to allow our deeper, more soulful longings to make themselves evident, and to grant them entry. Once we allow the ‘other’ to blow away, what we cherish remains.
During this time of transition it is important to take care of ourselves. We can give ourselves permission to release that which feels intrusive, and maintain healthy boundaries. We can grant ourselves permission to stop showing up out of a sense of obligation. We can evaluate where we are investing our energies, and whether or not those energies are moving us closer toward a life of fulfillment and joy. We can wander through the forest, deep in compost of leaves and organic matter, and determine what is fertile in our lives. We can allow the soul to drive rather than ego.
This, too, is a time to release clutter. Physical, mental and emotional clutter. Clearing our physical environment can free space that allows energy to flow more freely, and for greater clarity to enter. We can clear mental and emotional clutter by shedding old identities, releasing old stories, and letting go of thinking that no longer serves us. We can ask ourselves what story is at play when we feel tension. Are we committing to something, for example, out of a sense of obligation, or because it truly resonates within?
As we approach the holiday season it can be tempting to get swept up in activity and frenzy, right when all of the natural world is slowing down, preparing to hibernate. It seems that all living beings follow the wisdom of Mother Nature except for human kind. What if we, too, decided to follow this inherit wisdom? Personally, I am aware that I enjoy meaningful relationships, for example, and the slowing down of this season. For that reason, years ago I decided to let go of parties that would be filled with surface talk and ‘cocktail-level conversation’. That decision allows me to spend my holidays connecting with others in a way that is significant to me.
This process of letting go can be more challenging than it sounds. After all, if we allow the distraction of busyness to fall away, sit with the discomfort of releasing old story or thought patterns, and clear clutter and chaos from the environment, we are stepping into unknown territory. Who are we when we allow all of this to fade away? What comes up in the stillness, once the crowded leaves of summer no longer shield us from the illusion of fabricated urgency and self-imposed obligation? Do we still realize that we are enough?
Perhaps this time of transition invites us to sit in the space between, in the unknown, and to realize that when we shed the too-tight skin of what no longer fits, we are still enough. We must be brave to allow the leaves to blow away, to allow ourselves to exhale, as even the trees seem to exhale. It is in this release that we find freedom. There is no need to hurry. There is no arrival. We need not rush this gentle-wind dance. The seasons don’t change overnight, and neither do we.
We can make the commitment to be intentional with our time, and not allow the days of life to bleed into each other. We can decide how we want to spend our days – not how we should spend our day. We can anticipate things that we would look forward to doing.
In this sifting and sorting, perhaps some good questions to ask ourselves might be:
Personally, as I walk into my middle years, more softly that I once did, I can honor this season that offers ripeness and maturity and abundance. I can open to gratitude for what I have. I appreciate the abundance in my life, in the many forms that takes. After all, this is also the season of gratitude for our abundance. How about you? Will you join me in living an intentional life this autumn?
Cindi Broda is a health and wellness coach and owner of Dynamic Wellness, LLC. She works with women over 45 to create a vibrant and active life so that they may enjoy their second half of life. Cindi can be reached at [email protected] or her webpage can be found at www.dynamicwellness.life.